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Other Federal Enforcement Actions

Numerous federal agencies have authority to institute enforcement proceedings against wrongdoers.  These agencies include:

  • The Department of the Treasury and its divisions including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), which is responsible for safeguarding the U.S. financial system from illicit use and money laundering including through enforcement of the Bank Secrecy Act, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces economic and trade sanctions. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of the Bank Secrecy Act can submit a claim under the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Program.  Violations of other laws enforced by the Department of Treasury may give rise to claims under different whistleblower reward programs.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is charged with preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices. The FTC can bring enforcement actions under U.S. antitrust laws and to stop unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices. The FTC does not have any authority to pay financial rewards to whistleblowers; however, conduct that is regulated by the FTC may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which regulates the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the federal consumer financial laws, and has the authority to bring enforcement actions against financial service providers. While the CFPB accepts tips from whistleblowers, and applicable laws offer whistleblowers protection from retaliation, there is currently no provision for CFPB whistleblowers to receive financial rewards. However, conduct that is regulated by the CFPB may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces federal environmental laws and regulations. The EPA does not currently have any authority to pay financial rewards to whistleblowers; however, conduct that is regulated by the EPA may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program, and a number of federal environmental laws protect government or private employees reporting environmental violations under the statutes from retaliation.

Below are summaries of recent settlements and successful enforcement actions involving these agencies. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give rise to a claim under a whistleblower reward program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

January 19, 2021

U.S. Magnesium will pay a civil penalty of $250,000 and undertake at least $37 million in modifications and upgrades to its Rowley, Utah facility to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste generated at the facility, treat all wastewater, and prevent leaks from the facility to the Great Salt Lake.  EPA

January 15, 2021

Capital One, N.A. will pay a $390 million civil penalty following its admission that it violated the Bank Secrecy Act including by failing to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, and failing to file thousands of suspicious activity reports (SARs) and currency transaction reports (CTRs) including transactions in its high-risk Check Cashing Group.  As a result, from at least 2008 to 2014, millions of dollars of transactions were unreported, allowing funds connected with organized crime, tax evasion, and other financial crimes to be laundered through the U.S. financial system.  FINCEN

January 14, 2021

Indonesia-based paper products manufacturer PT Bukit Muria Jaya will pay $1.6 million and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with a compliance program to resolve charges that the company illegally shipped products to North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions law, and took steps to conceal the true nature of the transactions from U.S. banks.  DOJ; OFAC

January 4, 2021

French bank Union de Banques Arabes et Françaises will pay $8.6 million to resolve an investigation into its operation of U.S. dollar accounts on behalf of Syrian financial institutions subject to U.S. sanctions.  UBAF’s practices allowed the sanctioned entities to conduct transactions through a U.S. bank following internal transfers between the sanctioned entities and non-sanctioned entities that were also UBAF customers.  OFAC

December 22, 2020

Student loan servicer Discover Bank, together with its affiliates the Student Loan Corporation and Discover Products, Inc., will pay a $25 million penalty and at least $10 million in consumer redress to resolve allegations that the bank violated a 2015 Consent Order by failing to provide the consumer redress that order required and by continuing to misrepresent minimum loan payments, and also misrepresenting the amount of interest consumers paid and other material information including interest rates, payments, due dates, and the availability of rewards, among other things.  The CFPB also found additional unfair acts and practices by defendants, including unauthorized payment transfers.  CFPB

December 22, 2020

Santander Consumer USA Inc., which originates and services non-prime auto loans, was found to have violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by providing erroneous consumer loan information to credit reporting agencies between 2016 and 2019.  A CFPB Consent Order requires the bank to pay a $4.75 million monetary penalty and undertake specific compliance steps.  CFPB

December 10, 2020

Complete Merchant Solutions, LLC (CMS), a payment processor, and its former CEO, Jack Wilson, have agreed to pay $1.5 million in refunds to harmed consumers in order to settle FTC charges of illegally processing millions of dollars in credit card payments that they knew or should have known were fraudulent.  According to the FTC, CMS and Wilson ignored clear red flags while processing payments, including high rates of consumer chargebacks, the use of multiple merchant accounts to avoid chargeback rates, and the submission of sham chargeback reduction plans.  As part of the order, CMS and Wilson are required to conduct enhanced screening and monitoring of certain merchants, and are prohibited from acting as a payment processor for certain companies.  FTC

December 7, 2020

The largest non-bank mortgage servicer in the country, Nationstar Mortgage, has agreed to pay $79.2 million in restitution to over 55,000 borrowers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia who were harmed by the lender’s noncompliance with numerous laws, including the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and Homeowner’s Protection Action of 1998 (HPA), from 2011 to 2017.  Additionally, Nationstar will pay another $7.1 million in costs and penalties to government parties.  CFPB; DOJ; CA AG; NY AG; PA AG

December 7, 2020

DISH Network LLC has agreed to pay a record-breaking $126 million in civil penalties for violating the FTC’s Telemarking Sales Rule, as well as a combined $84 million to the States of California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.  In 2017, a federal district court found DISH liable for more than 66 million unlawful telemarketing calls made directly by the company or by retailers marketing their products and services.  The total settlement amount, $210 million, represents the largest civil penalty ever obtained for do-not-call violations.  DOJ; CA AG; NC AG

October 26, 2020

The CFPB has ordered Low VA Rates LLC to pay $1.8 million for sending consumers mailers that deceptively marketed VA-guaranteed mortgage loans.  In violation of the CFPA prohibition against deceptive acts and practices, the Mortgage Acts and Practices – Advertising Rule, and Regulation Z, the ads were found to misrepresent the credit terms of the loans, including the amount of each payment and the annual percentage rate, and misleadingly indicate that it could help consumers eliminate debt.  This is the ninth such enforcement action by the CFPB against deceptive mailers of VA-guaranteed mortgage loans.  In total, the CFPB has obtained more than $4.4 million in civil money penalties.  CFPB
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