DOJ Prioritizes Health Care Fraud in the Pandemic

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) recently announced its largest ever health care fraud and opioid enforcement action.  In a coordinated effort, DOJ charged 345 defendants with more than $6 billion in fraud losses for submitting false and fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers. The nationwide enforcement operation has been in motion since April and is the product of inter-agency cooperation between the Criminal Division, Fraud Section’s Health Care Fraud Unit, the Health Care Fraud and Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force program, local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, HHS-OIG, FBI, and DEA. While the opioid crisis has long been a target of federal prosecutors, it…

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4 Compliance Tips Amid Increased Ransomware Scrutiny

In light of two new US Treasury Department advisories signaling increased oversight of ransomware payments, victim companies and their third-party response teams considering making payments should follow certain due diligence and compliance best practices, write Colin Jennings, Ericka Johnson, Dylan Yépez and Elizabeth Weil Shaw in an article for Law360. Source link

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Cryptocurrency Exchange and its Executives Face Allegations of Failing to Maintain an Adequate AML Program

Two U.S. authorities recently announced actions against four individuals and numerous entities associated with BitMEX, an online trading platform for futures contracts and other derivative products tied to the value of cryptocurrencies.  Both actions allege that BitMEX failed to put in place required anti-money laundering programs and procedures, and serve as a reminder that institutions offering new and innovative financial products should assess the potential applicability of and compliance with U.S. anti-money laundering laws and regulations. BitMEX’s Background According to the court filings, BitMEX has described itself as the world’s largest cryptocurrency derivatives platform in the world.  Among other offerings, BitMEX offered commodity futures, options, and swaps on…

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Ransomware Payments can lead to Sanctions and Reporting Obligations for Financial Institutions

With cybercrime on the rise, two U.S. Treasury Department components, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), issued advisories on one of the most insidious forms of cyberattack – ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malicious software designed to block access to a system or data.  The targets of ransomware attacks are required to pay a ransom to regain access to their information or system, or to prevent the publication of their sensitive information.  Ransomware attackers usually demand payment in the form of convertible virtual currency (“CVC”), which can be more difficult to trace.  Although ransomware attacks were already on the…

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FinCEN Director Blanco Encourages Increased Communication During Global Pandemic

In remarks to the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (“ACAMS”), Kenneth A. Blanco, the Director of the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), covered a number of high-priority topics, including FinCEN’s response to the pandemic, the latest COVID-19 related fraud schemes, emerging cyber threats, virtual currency issues, and important regulatory updates.  A theme throughout his speech was FinCEN’s commitment to increased and meaningful communication with the entities it regulates. COVID-19 Related Fraud Blanco began by sharing that, in response to the pandemic, FinCEN aligned its strategic efforts to assist financial institutions in preventing COVID-related fraud.  In particular, the agency has responded to hundreds of inquiries relating…

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SEC Approves Changes to Its Whistleblower Program

This week, in a 3-2 vote, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or the “Commission”) approved significant changes to the rules governing its whistleblower program.  The program, established by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2011, incentivizes those with information about possible securities law violations to report to the SEC.  If the tipster provides “high-quality original information” that leads to an enforcement action where monetary sanctions exceed $1 million, the SEC will award a bounty equal to 10 to 30 percent of the sanctions.  According to the SEC, whistleblower reports have already led to enforcement actions ordering over $2.5 billion in financial remedies and resulting in more than $500…

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The White House Directs Federal Agencies to Focus on Fairness in Investigations and Enforcement

On May 19, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump signed Executive Order 13924, to provide regulatory relief for entities economically impacted by the pandemic.  Section 6 of the Executive Order directed agencies to revise their procedures and practices in administrative investigations and enforcement in light of certain enumerated principles of fairness.  It also required the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, to issue memoranda needed to guide implementation of the EO.  On August 31, 2020, OMB issued such a memorandum, providing guidance…

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FinCEN’s New Rule Impacts Banks Lacking a Federal Functional Regulator

On September 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a final rule  (“Rule”) requiring the minimum standards for anti-money laundering programs for certain institutions lacking a Federal functional regulator.  The Rule applies to banks that lack a Federal functional regulator, including, but not limited to, private banks, privately insured credit unions, and certain trust companies. The Rule also extends customer identification program and beneficial ownership requirements to those institutions. FinCEN noted that it expected that banks lacking a Federal functional regulator “will be able to leverage existing policies, procedures, and internal controls required by other statutory and regulatory requirements to fulfill…

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DOJ and SEC Release Second Edition to FCPA Resource Guide

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) quietly released updated guidance on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) before the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  Entitled A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Second Edition[1] (“Guide”), the Guide is the first update to the original document published in November 2012. Corporate compliance counsel will note that nothing within the Guide comes as a surprise.  The Guide is not a new document, but rather an update of well-known principles that takes into account the enforcement actions, caselaw, and government interpretations that have been issued since 2012. The Guide is one of…

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