California Mobile Lab and X-ray Provider, Diagnostic Laboratories and Radiology, to Pay $17.5 Million for Falsely Billing Medicare and Medi-CAL

Kan-Di-Ki LLC, formerly known as Kan-Di-Ki Inc., doing business as Diagnostic Laboratories and Radiology (Diagnostic Labs),  will pay $17.5 million to settle allegations that the California-based company violated the federal and California False Claims Acts by paying kickbacks for referral of mobile lab and radiology services subsequently billed to Medicare and Medi-Cal (the state of California’s Medicaid program), the Justice Department announced today.

“This settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s continuing efforts to protect public funds,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.  “We will continue to work with our state partners to recover misspent monies from companies that abuse government health care programs.”

Diagnostic Labs allegedly took advantage of Medicare’s different reimbursement system for inpatient and outpatient services by  charging Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) in California discounted rates for inpatient services paid by Medicare in exchange for the facilities’ referral of outpatient business to Diagnostic Labs.  For inpatient services, Medicare pays a fixed rate based on the patient’s diagnosis, regardless of specific services provided.  For outpatients, Medicare pays for each service separately.  Diagnostic Labs’ scheme enabled the SNFs to maximize profit earned for providing inpatient services by decreasing SNFs’ costs of providing these services.  It also allegedly allowed Diagnostic Labs to obtain a steady stream of lucrative outpatient referrals that it could directly bill to Medicare and Medi-Cal.  The provision of inducements, including discounted rates, to generate referrals is prohibited by federal and state law.

“When medical facility owners illegally offer discounts to customers to generate business, it results in inflated claims to government health care programs and increases costs for all taxpayers,” said Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Region of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.  “This $17.5 million settlement demonstrates OIG’s ongoing commitment to safeguarding federal health care programs and taxpayer dollars against all types of fraudulent activities.”

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $16.6 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $11.8 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

This settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by former Diagnostic Lab employees, Jon Pasqua and Jeff Hauser, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the federal and state False Claims Acts.  The acts allow private citizens  with knowledge of fraud to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery .  Together, Pasqua and Hauser will receive $3,755,500  as their share of the federal government’s recovery.

The investigation was jointly handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General.

The qui tam case is captioned United States and State of California ex rel. Pasqua et al. v. Kan-Di-Ki LLC f/k/a Kan-Di-Ki Inc. d/b/a Diagnostic Laboratories and Radiology, Civ. Action No. 10 0965 JST (Rzx) (C.D. Cal.).   The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Five Miami Residents Arrested for Alleged Roles in $48 Million Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

Five Miami residents have been charged for their alleged roles in a $48 million home health Medicare fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement after the case was unsealed following the defendants’ arrests this morning.

On Sept. 24, 2013, a federal grand jury in Miami returned an 11-count indictment charging Marianela Martinez, 45; Mireya Amechazurra, 49; Lissett Jo-Moure, 55; Omar Hernandez, 48; and Celia Santovenia, 49, each with one count of conspiracy to receive health care kickbacks and two counts of receiving kickbacks in connection with a Federal health care program.  Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison upon conviction.

According to the indictment, the defendants participated in a scheme involving Caring Nurse Home Health Care Corp. (Caring Nurse) and Good Quality Home Health Inc. (Good Quality), Miami home health care agencies that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  The defendants allegedly referred Medicare beneficiaries to Caring Nurse and/or Good Quality in exchange for kickbacks, knowing that Caring Nurse and/or Good Quality would in turn bill Medicare for home health services purportedly rendered for the recruited Medicare beneficiaries.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

In a related case, on Feb. 27, 2013, Rogelio Rodriguez and Raymond Aday, the owners and operators of Caring Nurse and Good Quality, were sentenced to 108 and 51 months in prison, respectively.  The sentencings followed their December 2012 guilty pleas to one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud charged in an October 2012 indictment, which alleged that from approximately January 2006 through June 2011, Caring Nurse and Good Quality submitted approximately $48 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.  Medicare paid approximately $33 million for those fraudulent claims.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

ICAP Brokers Face Felony Charges for Alleged Long-Running Manipulation of LIBOR Interest Rates

Two former derivatives brokers and a former cash broker employed by London-based brokerage firm ICAP were charged as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the Justice Department announced today.

Darrell Read, who resides in New Zealand, and Daniel Wilkinson and Colin Goodman, both of England, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud in a criminal complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court earlier today.  They each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for each count upon conviction.

“By allegedly participating in a scheme to manipulate benchmark interest rates for financial gain, these defendants undermined the integrity of the global markets,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “They were supposed to be honest brokers, but instead, they put their own financial interests ahead of that larger responsibility.  And as a result, transactions and financial products around the world were compromised, because they were tied to a rate that was distorted due to the brokers’ dishonesty.  These charges underscore the Justice Department’s determination to hold accountable all those whose conduct threatens the integrity of our financial markets.”

“These three men are accused of repeatedly and deliberately spreading false information to banks and investors around the world in order to fraudulently move the market and help their client fleece his counterparties,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Our criminal investigation of the manipulation of LIBOR by some of the largest banks in the world has led us from New York to London, to Tokyo, and other financial hubs around the globe.  These important charges are just the latest law-enforcement action in the Criminal Division and Antitrust Division’s global LIBOR investigation, and reflect the Department’s continued dedication to detecting, and prosecuting, financial fraudsters who affect U.S. markets, whether they work at a bank, or a brokerage, and whether they carry out their fraud from a desk in the United States, or abroad.”

“The complaint unsealed today charges Colin Goodman, Daniel Wilkinson and Darrell Read for conspiring to manipulate benchmark interest rates that determined the profitability of their client’s trades,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “In exchange for bigger bonus checks, the three defendants undermined financial markets around the world by compromising the integrity of globally used interest rate benchmarks.  The Department continues to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the interest of American citizens in free and fair financial markets.”

“Corporate and securities fraud involving the manipulation of these rates causes a worldwide impact on trading positions and erodes the integrity of the market and confidence in Wall Street,” said Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  “Unraveling such complex financial schemes is difficult and time consuming.  Today’s charges are the result of the hard work of the FBI special agents and forensic accountants who dedicated significant time and resources to investigating this case.”

According to the criminal complaint, LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.  LIBOR is published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London.  At the time relevant to the criminal complaint, LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.  The published LIBOR “fix” for a given currency at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of banks for that currency (the contributor panel) selected by the BBA.

LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.  The Bank of International Settlements estimated that as of the second half of 2009, outstanding interest rate contracts were estimated at approximately $450 trillion.

According to allegations in the criminal complaint filed in this case, between July 2006 and September 2010, Wilkinson was a desk director employed in the London office of ICAP, where he supervised a group of derivatives brokers – including Read – specializing in Yen-based financial products.  Generally, the desk’s clients were derivatives traders at large financial institutions, and the transactions brokered by Wilkinson, Read and others on the desk essentially consisted of bets between traders on the direction in which Yen LIBOR would move.  Between July 2006 and September 2009, the desk’s largest client was a senior trader at UBS (UBS Trader) in Tokyo, to whom Read spoke almost daily.  Because of the large size of the client’s trading positions, even slight moves of a fraction of a percent in Yen LIBOR could generate large profits.  For example, UBS Trader once told Read that a 0.01 percent – or one basis point – movement in the final Yen LIBOR fixing on a specific date could result in $3 million profit for his trading positions.  A significant part of both Read’s and Wilkinson’s compensation was tied to the brokerage fees generated by UBS Trader and paid to ICAP.

Goodman was a cash broker at ICAP’s London office during the relevant time period.  In addition to brokering cash transactions, Goodman distributed a daily email to individuals outside of ICAP, including derivatives traders at several large banks as well as those responsible for providing the BBA with LIBOR submissions at certain banks.  Goodman’s email contained what was termed his “SUGGESTED LIBORS,” purported predictions of where Yen LIBOR ultimately would fix each day across eight specified borrowing periods.  Read and Wilkinson, along with Goodman himself, often referred to Goodman as “lord libor.”

The complaint alleges that Read, Wilkinson and Goodman, together with UBS Trader, executed a sustained and systematic scheme to move Yen LIBOR in a direction favorable to UBS Trader’s trading positions.

According to the criminal complaint, the primary strategy employed by Read, Wilkinson and Goodman to execute the scheme was to use Goodman’s “SUGGESTED LIBORS” email to disseminate misinformation to Yen LIBOR panel banks in hopes that the banks would rely on the misinformation when making their own respective Yen LIBOR submissions to the BBA for inclusion in the published fix.  Rather than providing good faith predictions as to where Yen LIBOR would fix, Goodman instead often used his daily email to set forth predictions which benefitted UBS Trader’s trading positions.

Beginning in or about June 2007, Goodman was paid a bonus through the desk Wilkinson supervised, allegedly intended, at least in part, to reward Goodman for his role in their effort to influence and manipulate the published Yen LIBOR fix.

As a second strategy, Read and Wilkinson allegedly further agreed to contact interest rate derivatives traders and submitters employed at Yen LIBOR panel banks in an effort to cause them to make false and misleading submissions to the BBA at UBS Trader’s behest.

As alleged in the charging document, Read, Wilkinson, Goodman, UBS Trader, and other co-conspirators often executed their scheme through electronic chats and email exchanges.  For example, on June 28, 2007, in an email message, Read told Wilkinson: “DAN THIS IS GETTING SERIOUS [UBS TRADER] IS NOT HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE PROGRESSING . . . CAN YOU PLEASE GET HOLD OF COLIN AND GET HIM TO SEND OUT 6 MOS LIBOR AT 0.865 AND TO GET HIS BANKS SETTING IT HIGH. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE [UBS TRADER] IS QUESTIONING MY (AND OUR) WORTH.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants were aware of the effects that Goodman’s false and fraudulent “SUGGESTED LIBORS” had on submissions by Yen LIBOR panel banks.  For example, on Nov. 20, 2008, Read asked UBS Trader, “you have a really big fix tonight I believe? if Colin sends out 6m at a more realistic level than 1.10 [%] i reckon [the two panel banks] will parrot him, it might mean 6m coming down a bit.” On the following day, Nov. 21, 2008, Goodman moved his suggestion for 6-month Yen LIBOR down by nine basis points.  The two other banks mirrored Goodman’s suggestion, moving their 6-month Yen LIBOR submissions down by nine basis points.

According to allegations in the complaint, Read counseled UBS Trader how to most effectively manipulate Yen LIBOR.  For example, UBS Trader told Read in a July 22, 2009, electronic chat that “11th aug is the big date…i still have lots of 6m fixings till the 10th.”   Read responded to UBS Trader, “if you drop [UBS’s] 6m dramatically on the 11th mate, it will look v fishy… .  I’d be v careful how you play it, there might be cause for a drop as you cross into a new month but a couple of weeks in might get people questioning you.”  UBS Trader replied, “don’t worry will stagger the drops…ie 5bp then 5bp,” and Read told UBS Trader, “ok mate, don’t want you getting into [expletive].”  UBS Trader again assured Read that UBS and two additional panel banks would stagger their drops in coordination, and Read concluded, “great the plan is hatched and sounds sensible.”

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

The investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants, and intelligence analysts of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Deputy Chief William Stellmach and Trial Attorney Sandra L. Moser of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorneys Eric Schleef and Kristina Srica of the Antitrust Division.  Trial Attorneys Alexander Berlin and Thomas B.W. Hall, Law Clerk Andrew Tyler, and Paralegal Specialist Kevin Sitarski of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, along with Assistant Chief Elizabeth Prewitt and Trial Attorney Richard Powers of the Antitrust Division, and former Trial Attorney Luke Marsh have also provided valuable assistance.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter as well.

The broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad.  The Justice Department acknowledges and expresses its deep appreciation for this assistance.  In particular, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the Department and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, has played a major role in the investigation.  The Securities and Exchange Commission has also provided valuable assistance for which the Department is grateful.  The Department also expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.  Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation, and the Department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance as well.

Finally, the Department acknowledges ICAP’s continuing cooperation in the Department’s ongoing investigation.

This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

Panasonic Executive Indicted for Role in Fixing Prices on Automobile Parts Sold to Toyota to Be Installed in U.S. Cars

A Detroit federal grand jury returned an indictment against a Panasonic Automotive Systems Corporation executive for his role in an international conspiracy to fix prices of switches and steering angle sensors sold to Toyota and installed in U.S. cars, the Department of Justice announced today.

The indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Detroit, charges that Shinichi Kotani, a Japanese national, participated in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize, and maintain the prices of, switches and steering angle sensors sold to Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. for installation in vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States and elsewhere.   Kotani is the Director of Global Automotive Marketing and Sales at Panasonic.

Panasonic is an Osaka, Japan-based manufacturer of automotive parts, including steering wheel switches, turn switches, wiper switches, combination switches, and steering angle sensors  .  Panasonic pleaded guilty in August 2013, to its role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to pay a $45.8 million criminal fine.

The indictment alleges, among other things, that from at least as early as January 2004 until at least February 2010, Kotani and his co-conspirators attended meetings to reach collusive agreements to rig bids, allocate the supply and fix the prices of switches and steering angle sensors sold to Toyota.  The indictment alleges that Kotani and his co-conspirators had further communications to monitor and enforce the collusive agreement.

“The Antitrust Division remains vigilant in its ongoing efforts to hold executives accountable when they engage in anticompetitive conduct that harms American consumers,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “As a result of the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging and price fixing in the auto parts industry, 19 executives have been charged.”

“I am proud of the hard work done by the FBI agents and the Department of Justice attorneys who worked on this case,” said John Robert Shoup, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division.  “The global resources of the FBI are always ready to respond when these complex financial conspiracies threaten our national economy.”

Kotani is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
Including Kotani, 11 companies and 19 executives have been charged in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into the automotive parts industry.  To date, more than $874 million in criminal fines have been imposed and 14 individuals have been sentenced to pay criminal fines and to serve jail sentences ranging from a year and a day to two years each.  One other executive has agreed to serve time in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 25, 2013.

The charges are the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charges were brought by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section and the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit.

Two Fujikura Ltd. Executives Indicted for Roles in Fixing Prices on Automobile Parts Sold to Subaru to Be Installed in U.S. Cars

A federal grand jury in Detroit returned an indictment against two Fujikura Ltd. executives for their roles in an international conspiracy to fix prices of auto parts used in automotive wire harnesses sold to Subaru and installed in U.S. cars, the Department of Justice announced today.

The indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Detroit, charges Ryoji Fukudome and Toshihiko Nagashima, both Japanese nationals, with participating in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive wire harnesses sold to Fuji Heavy Industries–an automaker more commonly known by its brand name, Subaru–for installation in automobiles sold in the United States and elsewhere.

Fukudome was employed by Fujikura as general manager of the Automotive Global Marketing Department from April 2001 to April 2006 and Nagashima was employed by Fujikura as manager of the Fujikura Wire Harness Center in Ohta, Japan, from July 1994 to April 2006, and as general manager of the Automotive Global Marketing Department from April 2006 to April 2009.

Fujikura is a Toyko-based manufacturer of automotive wire harnesses.  Automotive wire harnesses are automotive electrical distribution systems used to direct and control electronic components, wiring and circuit boards.  Fujikura pleaded guilty to its role in the conspiracy in June 2012, and was sentenced to pay a $20 million criminal fine.

The indictment alleges, among other things, that from at least as early as September 2005 until at least February 2010, Fukudome, Nagashima and their co-conspirators attended meetings in Japan to reach collusive agreements to rig bids and allocate the supply of automotive wire harnesses sold to Subaru.  The indictment alleges that Fukudome, Nagashima and their co-conspirators had further communications to monitor and enforce the collusive agreements.

“International cartels targeting U.S. businesses and consumers pose a serious threat to our competitive market place,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “The Antitrust Division is working closely with competition enforcers abroad to ensure that there are no safe harbors for executives who engage in international cartel crimes.”   “Those who engage in price fixing, bid rigging and other fraudulent schemes harm the automotive industry by driving up costs for vehicle makers and buyers,” said John Robert Shoup, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division.  “The FBI is committed to pursuing and prosecuting these individuals for their crimes.”

Fukudome and Nagashima are charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Including Fukudome and Nagashima, 11 companies and 18 executives have been charged in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into the automotive parts industry.  To date, more than $874 million in criminal fines have been imposed and 14 individuals have been sentenced to pay criminal fines and to serve prison sentences ranging from a year and a day to two years each.  One other executive has agreed to serve time in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 25, 2013.

The charges are the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charges were brought by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section and the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit.

9/18/2013 Business Week: AMR-US Airways Unions Meet U.S. Official on Merger Suit

9/18/2013 Business Week: AMR-US Airways Unions Meet U.S. Official on Merger Suit

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-09-18/amr-us-airways-unions-meet-u-dot-s-dot-antitrust-chief-on-merger-suit

UBS Securities Japan Co. Ltd Sentenced for Long-running Manipulation of Libor

UBS Securities Japan Co. Ltd. (UBS Securities Japan), an investment bank, financial advisory securities firm and wholly-owned subsidiary of UBS AG, was sentenced today for its role in manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a leading benchmark used in financial products and transactions around the world, the Justice Department announced.

UBS Securities Japan was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in the District of Connecticut.  UBS Securities Japan pleaded guilty on Dec. 19, 2012, to one count of engaging in a scheme to defraud counterparties to interest rate derivative trades by secretly manipulating LIBOR benchmark interest rates.  UBS Securities Japan signed a plea agreement with the government in which it admitted its criminal conduct and agreed to pay a $100 million fine, which the court accepted in imposing sentence.  In addition, UBS AG, the Zurich-based parent company of UBS Securities Japan, entered into a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with the government requiring UBS AG to pay an additional $400 million penalty, to admit and accept responsibility for its misconduct as set forth in an extensive statement of facts and to continue cooperating with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation.  The NPA reflects UBS AG’s substantial cooperation in discovering and disclosing LIBOR misconduct within the financial institution and recognizes the significant remedial measures undertaken by new management to enhance internal controls.

Together with approximately $1 billion in regulatory penalties and disgorgement – $700 million as a result of a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) action; $259.2 million as a result of a U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) action; and $64.3 million as a result of a Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) action – the Justice Department’s criminal penalties bring the total amount of the resolution to more than $1.5 billion.

“This action, and the resulting sentence, prove that no individual or firm is above the law – no matter what,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “The Department of Justice will continue to stand vigilant against corporations or individuals who threaten the integrity of our financial markets, undermine the stability of our economy, or jeopardize the well-being of our citizens.  And, when supported by the facts and the law, we will never hesitate to use every tool and authority available to us to hold accountable those who illegally take advantage of others for their own financial gain.”

“Through its guilty plea and sentence, UBS has been held to account for deliberately manipulating LIBOR, one of the cornerstone interest rates in our global financial system,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division.  “The $1.5 billion global resolution against UBS – of which this guilty plea and sentence are a critical element – is just one of several actions we have taken against financial firms throughout the world that sought to illegally influence LIBOR.  As we continue our active and ongoing investigation of the manipulation of LIBOR, our prosecutors and agents will continue to tenaciously follow the evidence wherever it leads.  Neither UBS, nor the individual UBS defendants we have charged in connection with this sophisticated scheme, nor any other bank or individual, is above the law.”

According to documents filed in these cases, LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.  LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally, and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.  The Bank of International Settlements estimated that as of the second half of 2009, outstanding interest rate contracts were estimated at approximately $450 trillion.

LIBOR, published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London, is calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.  The LIBOR for a given currency at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of banks.

Beginning in September 2006, UBS Securities Japan and a senior trader employed in the Tokyo office of UBS Securities Japan orchestrated a sustained, wide-ranging and systematic scheme to move Yen LIBOR in a direction favorable to the trader’s trading positions, defrauding UBS’s counterparties and harming others with financial products referencing Yen LIBOR who were unaware of the manipulation.  Between November 2006 and August 2009, the senior trader or a colleague of the senior trader endeavored to manipulate Yen LIBOR on at least 335 of the 738 trading days in that period, and during some periods on almost a daily basis.  Because of the large size of the senior trader’s positions, even slight moves of a fraction of a percent in Yen LIBOR could generate large profits.  For example, the senior trader once estimated that a 0.01 percent movement in the final Yen LIBOR fixing on a specific date could result in a $2 million profit for UBS.

According to the charging documents, UBS Securities Japan and the senior trader employed three strategies to execute the scheme: causing UBS to make false and misleading Yen LIBOR submissions to the BBA; causing cash brokerage firms, which purported to provide market information regarding LIBOR to panel banks, to disseminate false and misleading information about short-term interest rates for Yen, which those banks could and did rely upon in formulating their own LIBOR submissions to the BBA; and communicating with interest rate derivatives traders employed at three other Yen LIBOR panel banks in an effort to cause them to make false and misleading Yen LIBOR submissions to the BBA.

In entering into the NPA with UBS AG, the Justice Department considered information from UBS and from regulatory agencies in Switzerland and Japan demonstrating that in the last two years UBS has made important and positive changes in its management, compliance and training to ensure adherence to the law.  The Department received favorable reports from the FINMA and the Japan Financial Services Authority (JFSA) describing, respectively, progress that UBS has made in its approach to compliance and enforcement and UBS Securities Japan’s effective implementation of the remedial measures the JFSA imposed based on findings relating to the attempted manipulation of Yen benchmarks.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Deputy Chiefs Daniel Braun and William Stellmach and Trial Attorneys Thomas B.W. Hall and Sandra L. Moser, along with former Trial Attorney Luke Marsh, of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Glover and Liam Brennan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut have provided valuable assistance.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this matter.

The investigation leading to these cases has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad.  The Justice Department acknowledges and expresses its deep appreciation for this assistance.  In particular, the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the Department and, along with the FCA, has played a major role in the investigation.  The SEC has also played a significant role in the LIBOR series of investigations and, among other efforts, has made an invaluable contribution to the investigation relating to UBS.  The Department of Justice also wishes to acknowledge and thank FINMA, the Japanese Ministry of Justice, and the JFSA.  Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations also have participated in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the Department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance.

FORMER ALABAMA REAL ESTATE INVESTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO MAKING FALSE STATEMENT IN CONNECTION WITH REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURE AUCTION INVESTIGATION

WASHINGTON — A former investor in the Alabama real estate foreclosure auctions  industry pleaded guilty today to one count of making false statements, the  Department of Justice announced.

Ali Forouzan, of Mobile, Ala., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District  Court for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile to making materially false  and fictitious statements to a Special Agent of the FBI and a Department of  Justice Antitrust Division prosecutor.   The false statements were in regard to his knowledge of, and  participation in, bid rigging and other fraudulent schemes in the Alabama real  estate foreclosure auction industry.

According to the charge, in February 2012, Forouzan was interviewed, with  counsel present, about the fraudulent schemes under investigation.  Forouzan was aware of the nature of the  investigation and knew that it was material for the FBI and the Antitrust  Division to obtain his full knowledge of such unlawful acts as bid-rigging  agreements and other fraudulent schemes relating to real estate foreclosure  auctions; unlawful payoffs that he and others made and received in furtherance  of such schemes; and secret, second auctions in which Forouzan and others  participated.  However, Forouzan willfully  and knowingly provided false and fictitious information during his interview.

“The Antitrust Division views attempts to compromise the integrity of its  investigations as a serious offense,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney  General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “Today’s filing should send a clear signal  that the Antitrust Division is committed to prosecuting vigorously attempts to  cover-up illegal, anticompetitive conduct.”

“The success of this investigation exemplifies  the FBI’s continued commitment to fight fraud in the real estate industry and  serves to deter those who wish to illegally profit from fraud schemes,” said  Stephen E. Richardson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Mobile Field  Office.  Special Agent in Charge  Richardson praised the perseverance of agents and prosecutors in this complex  investigation.

Including Forouzan, to date, nine individuals and two companies have  pleaded guilty as a result of the department’s ongoing investigation into the  Alabama real estate foreclosure auction industry.

Forouzan faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three  years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The charge against the defendant  arose from an ongoing investigation into bid rigging and other fraudulent  schemes in the Alabama real estate foreclosure auctions industry.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging  or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should call  404-331-7116 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.

Today’s charges  were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement  Task Force.  The task force was  established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to  investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S.  Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of  law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat  fraud.  Since its formation, the task  force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and  prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among  federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending  and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial  institutions and other organizations.  Over  the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000  financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than  2,900 mortgage fraud defendants.

“No Show” Doctor Sentenced to 151 Months in Prison in Connection with $77 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Gustave Drivas, M.D., 58, of Staten Island, N.Y., was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison for his role as a “no show” doctor in a $77 million Medicare fraud scheme.  The State of New York revoked Dr. Drivas’s medical license earlier this year.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.

Drivas was convicted by a jury on April 8, 2013, of health care fraud conspiracy and health care fraud after a seven-week trial.  He was acquitted of kickback conspiracy.  Including Drivas, 13 individuals have been convicted of participating in the massive fraud scheme, either through guilty pleas or trial convictions.  In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon of the Eastern District of New York sentenced Drivas to three years of supervised release with a concurrent exclusion from Medicare, Medicaid and all Federal health programs, ordered him to forfeit $511,000 and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $50.9 million.

The evidence at trial showed that Drivas knowingly authorized his co-conspirators at a Brooklyn medical clinic to use his Medicare billing number to charge Medicare for more than $20 million in medical procedures and services that were never performed.  In return, he received more than $500,000 for his role in the scheme.  According to court documents, from 2005 to 2010, Drivas was the medical director of or a rendering physician at a clinic in Brooklyn that billed Medicare under three corporate names: Bay Medical Care PC, SVS Wellcare Medical PLLC and SZS Medical Care PLLC (collectively “Bay Medical clinic”).  The evidence established that Drivas was a “no show” doctor, who almost never visited the clinic except to pick up his check.  The evidence also showed that the clinic paid cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries and used the beneficiaries’ names to bill Medicare for more than $77 million in services that were medically unnecessary and never provided.

The government’s investigation included the use of a court-ordered audio/video recording device hidden in a room at the clinic in which the conspirators paid cash kickbacks to corrupt Medicare beneficiaries.  The conspirators were recorded paying approximately $500,000 in cash kickbacks during a period of approximately six weeks from April to June 2010.  This room was marked “PRIVATE” and featured a Soviet-era poster of a woman with a finger to her lips and the words “Don’t Gossip” in Russian.  The purpose of the kickbacks was to induce the beneficiaries to receive unnecessary medical services or to stay silent when services not provided to the patients were billed to Medicare.

To generate the large amounts of cash needed to pay the patients, Drivas’s business partners and co-conspirators recruited a network of external money launderers who cashed checks for the clinic.  Clinic owners wrote clinic checks payable to various shell companies controlled by the money launderers.  These checks did not represent payment for any legitimate service at or for the Bay Medical clinic, but rather were written to launder the clinic’s fraudulently obtained health care proceeds.  The money launderers cashed these checks and provided the cash back to the clinic.  Clinic employees used the cash to pay illegal cash kickbacks to the Bay Medical clinic’s purported patients.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sarah M. Hall of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William C. Campos and Shannon C. Jones of the Eastern District of New York.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Mastermind of $11 Million Detroit Medicare Fraud Scheme Sentenced to 50 Months in Prison

Muhammad Shahab, the mastermind of an almost $11 million Medicare fraud scheme in Detroit, was sentenced today to 50 months in prison.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade, Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley III of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.

Shahab, 53, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood in the Eastern District of Michigan.  In addition to his prison term, Shahab was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay more than $10.8 million in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants.    Shahab pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud in February 2010.  According to information contained in plea documents, Shahab helped finance and establish two Detroit-area home health agencies, Patient Choice Home Healthcare Inc. (Patient Choice) and All American Home Care Inc. (All American).  Shahab admitted that while operating or being associated with both home health agencies, he and his co-conspirators billed Medicare for home health visits that never occurred.         Shahab admitted that he and his co-conspirators recruited and paid cash kickbacks and other inducements to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for the beneficiaries’ Medicare numbers and signatures on documents falsely indicating that they had visited Patient Choice and All American for the purpose of receiving physical or occupational therapy.  Shahab admitted that a large number of the beneficiaries were neither homebound nor in need of any physical therapy services.       Shahab also admitted to securing physician referrals for medically unnecessary home health services through the payment of kickbacks to physicians or individuals associated with physicians.  Shahab employed several physical therapists and physical therapy assistants to sign medical documentation needed to begin billing for home health care services, including initial payments and payments for each visit to a Medicare beneficiary.  Shahab acknowledged that he knew the physical therapists and physical therapy assistants were not actually conducting a large majority of the visits or treating a large majority of the patients, and confessed to billing and receiving payment from Medicare for services not rendered or medically unnecessary services.         Between approximately August 2007 and October 2009, Shahab and his co-conspirators at Patient Choice and All American submitted approximately $10.8 million in claims to the Medicare program for physical and occupational therapy services that were never rendered or were medically unnecessary.    This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and the Internal Revenue Service and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  This case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Gejaa Gobena, Assistant Chief Catherine Dick and Trial Attorney Niall O’Donnell of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.