The US Department of Justice collected more than $8 billion through civil and criminal enforcement actions during the 2013 fiscal year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday. The greatest recoveries resulted from: (i) recoveries under the federal False Claims Act (the original whistleblower law), in which the US reclaims money lost to fraud or waste by businesses; and (ii) collected fines stemming from employer and employee violations of federal health, safety, civil rights or environmental laws. The success of these collections will likely compel the Justice Department to continue vigorous enforcement of these legal areas.
In a press release, Attorney General Holder used the department's latest figures to plead for continued Congressional budgetary support, stating that it "is critical that Congress provide the resources necessary to match the department's mounting caseload."
The number includes about $3.2 billion in monetary recoveries related to health care fraud. Since 2009, the Justice Department's enforcement of the False Claims Act has been instrumental in securing billions of dollars in collections (e.g., $4.9 billion was collected through monetary settlements for the 2012 fiscal year). The government highlighted recent settlements with healthcare company Abbott Laboratories and biotech giant Amgen as examples of its fraud enforcement efforts.
The $8 billion number also includes penalties and fines collected from BP Exploration and Production Inc. and Transocean Deepwater Inc. related to the Deepwater Horizon settlement. The 2010 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico led to the largest off-shore oil spill in the nation's history, resulting in 11 worker deaths, 17 injuries and widespread environmental and economic impact to the region. The incident had criminal ramifications for the corporation and its workers: to date, the government has collected $256 million in criminal fines following January 2013 convictions for manslaughter, obstruction of justice and environmental crimes.
The total amount of recoveries comprises direct and indirect payments, including payments made to other federal agencies, states and other designated recipients (e.g., whistleblowers). The figure also includes monies that were collected in the 2013 fiscal year but stemmed from cases resolved in previous years.