Detroit-Area Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy Assistant and Unlicensed Doctor Convicted in $14.9 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A federal jury in Detroit today convicted a physical therapist, physical therapy assistant and unlicensed doctor for their participation in a nearly $15 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the Detroit Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations made the announcement.

Shahzad Mirza, 43, a physical therapist; Jigar Patel, 30, a physical therapy assistant; and Srinivas Reddy, 38, a foreign medical school graduate without a license to practice medicine were each found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in connection with a scheme perpetrated from approximately July 2008 through September 2011 at Detroit area companies Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC (Physicians Choice), Quantum Home Care Inc. (Quantum), First Care Home Health Care LLC (First Care), Moonlite Home Care Inc. (Moonlite) and Phoenix Visiting Physicians.  In addition, Mirza and Patel were each found guilty of two counts of health care fraud in connection with the submission of false claims to Medicare for home health services, and Reddy was found guilty of three counts of health care fraud in connection with the submission of false claims to Medicare for home health services and physician home visits.  Patel was found guilty of one count of money laundering in connection with his laundering of the proceeds of the fraud through his company MI Healthcare Staffing.

The defendants were charged in a superseding indictment returned Feb. 6, 2012.  Three other individuals charged in the indictment remain fugitives.

According to evidence presented at trial, Physicians Choice, Quantum, First Care and Moonlite operated a fraudulent scheme to bill Medicare for home health care services that were never provided.  The home health care companies paid kickbacks to recruiters who in turn paid Medicare beneficiaries cash and promised them access to narcotic prescriptions.  The conspirators created the company Phoenix Visiting Physicians, which employed unlicensed individuals, including Reddy, to visit patients and provide them with narcotic prescriptions as well as obtain the information necessary to fill out paperwork to refer them for medically unnecessary home health care services.

Evidence presented at trial showed that beneficiaries pre-signed medical paperwork that was provided to Patel and other physical therapist assistants to fill in with false information purporting to show that the care was provided, when it was not.  Patel, registered physical therapist Mirza and others would sign this paperwork as though they had provided services.  In the course of the conspiracy, Patel incorporated his own staffing company, MI Healthcare Staffing, through which he laundered proceeds of the fraud from home health care companies and a shell company owned and operated by his co-conspirators.

Physicians Choice and the related companies were paid nearly $15 million in the course of the conspiracy.

Sentencing for all three defendants has not yet been scheduled.

The investigation was led by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint effort of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant Chief Catherine K. Dick and Trial Attorneys Matthew C. Thuesen and Rohan A. Virginkar of the 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 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 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.

“Karl Lee” Charged for Evading US Sanctions

Sanctions Previously Had Been Imposed Because of “Karl Lee’s” Role in Iranian Weapons Proliferation Activities; an Additional Round of Sanctions Are Also Announced Today
Li Fangwei, who is more commonly known by his alias “Karl Lee,” is charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by using United States-based financial institutions to engage in millions of dollars of U.S. dollar transactions in violation of economic sanctions that prohibited such financial transactions. In addition, Li Fangwei is also charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, a money laundering conspiracy, two separate violations of IEEPA and two separate substantive counts of wire fraud, in connection with such illicit transactions.   Li Fangwei, a national of the People’s Republic of China, is a fugitive.

The announcement was made today by Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George C. Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge for the FBI’s New York Field Office.

“ These charges are an important part of the ‘ all tools’ approach our government is takingagainst Li Fangwei to shut down and deny him the profit from his proliferation activities,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “This case is an outstanding example of multiple agencies working together to focus various enforcement efforts on the significant threat to our national security posed by such proliferation networks.”

“As alleged, Li Fangwei has used subterfuge and deceit to continue to evade U.S. sanctions that had been imposed because of his illicit trade in prohibited materials with Iran,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.   “Previously having been exposed as a violator of those sanctions, Li spun a web of front companies to carry out prohibited transactions essentially in disguise.   He now stands charged with serious crimes, and millions of his dollars have been seized.   It is the hope of this Office not only that Li’s banned commerce cease once and for all, but that he be apprehended and brought before the bar of American justice.”

“Whether motivated by greed or otherwise, Li Fangwei allegedly ignored sanctions imposed by the United States Government and hid behind front companies he developed to engage in a series of illegal transactions, including attempts to acquire ‘dual use’ items on behalf of Iran-based entities,” said Director in Charge Venizelos.  “IEEPA makes it a crime to willfully violate U.S. sanctions on designated countries such as Iran.  Individuals and companies who evade U.S. sanctions and misuse our banking system to further their illegal activity not only undermine the integrity of our financial markets but also threaten U.S. National Security interests.  The FBI is committed to ensuring that strategically important goods and technology, particularly those that could be used in the production or delivery of weapons of mass destruction, do not end up in the wrong hands.”

According to the superseding indictment previously filed in Manhattan federal court and other court documents:

Li Fangwei controls a large network of industrial companies based in eastern China, one of which is LIMMT Economic and Trade Company Ltd. (LIMMT).   Over the years, Li Fangwei’s companies have done millions of dollars of business with Iran.   This business has included selling to Iranian entities various metallurgical goods and related components that are banned for transfer to Iran by, among others, the United Nations, because the items are controlled by the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (a multinational group that maintains “control lists,” which identify nuclear-related dual-use equipment, material and technology).   Li Fangwei has been, among other things, a long-time supplier to Iran’s Defense Industries Organization and Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization.   In addition, Li Fangwei has been a principal contributor to Iran’s ballistic missile program, through China-based entities that have been sanctioned by the United States.

In light of his supply of restricted items to Iran, the United States has imposed targeted sanctions on both Li Fangwei and LIMMT.   Specifically, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) publicly added LIMMT (in 2006) and Li Fangwei (in 2009) to its List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List).  By virtue of their inclusion on the SDN List, Li Fangwei and LIMMT were effectively precluded from conducting any business within the United States without first obtaining a license or authorization from OFAC.   Neither Li Fangwei nor LIMMT has sought such a license or authorization.

The above-referenced restrictions have forced Li Fangwei to operate much of his business covertly.   In response to United States sanctions, Li Fangwei has built an outsized network of China-based front companies to conceal his continuing participation, and LIMMT’s continuing participation, in sanctioned activities.   The front companies are listed in Exhibit A to the superseding indictment.   As shown in Exhibit A, many of those front companies have used the same address as LIMMT, or a close variant thereof.

During the period from 2006 through to the present, Li Fangwei has used front companies to engage in more than 165 separate U.S. dollar transactions, with a total value in excess of approximately $8.5 million dollars.   Included in those illicit transactions have been transactions involving sales to U.S. companies and sales of merchandise by Li Fangwei to Iran-based companies utilizing the U.S. financial system.   Li Fangwei also attempted to acquire on behalf of Iran-based entities so-called “dual use” items from the United States, China and other countries that could be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction and/or devices used to deliver weapons of mass destruction.

Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI announced the seizure of over $6,895,000 in funds attributable to the Li Fangwei front companies, and the filing of a civil complaint seeking the forfeiture of those funds to the United States.   The seized funds are substitutes for money held by Li Fangwei’s front companies at banks in China, and were seized from accounts at U.S. banks held in the name of foreign banks used by these front companies to conduct U.S. currency transactions (the correspondent accounts).   The funds were seized pursuant to seizure warrants issued on Dec. 18, 2013, and April 25, 2014.   The $6,895,000 represents funds used by the Li Fangwei front companies to engage in transactions that violate the U.S. sanctions laws and thus are subject to forfeiture.   There are no allegations of wrongdoing by the U.S. or foreign banks that maintain these accounts.   Because the funds used in those transactions are held in banks overseas, the United States is unable to seize the funds directly.   However, pursuant to U.S. law, the United States can seize funds located in a bank’s correspondent accounts in the United States if there is probable cause to believe that funds subject to forfeiture are on deposit with that bank overseas.   Based on this provision and others, the seizure warrants were executed.   These funds were transferred to a seized asset account maintained by the United States Marshals Service pending resolution of the forfeiture action.

Based on information developed in the course of the FBI’s investigation into Li Fangwei that forms the basis of the superseding indictment, OFAC today is adding eight additional front companies used by Li Fangwei to its List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.

Finally, the United States Department of Commerce announced today the addition of nine China-based suppliers of Li Fangwei to its Entity List.

The Superseding Indictment charges Li Fangwei with seven separate offenses:

  • Count One: Conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act;

 

  • Counts Two and Three: Substantive violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act;

 

  • Count Four: Money laundering conspiracy;

 

  • Count Five: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud; and

 

  • Counts Six and Seven: Wire fraud.

If convicted, Li Fangwei faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of Counts One through Four and Counts Six and Seven, and 30 years in prison on Count Five.  The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Additional efforts directed at Li Fangwei and his network were announced today by the U.S. Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Maurice Stucke and Elizabeth Stucke will be presenting “In Search of an Effective Ethics and Compliance Program” at the 2014 SAI Global Customer Conference in Washington DC on April 30, 2014

2014 SAI Global Customer Conference

See below for a description for each conference agenda track.

Track 1 | COMPLIANCE EFFECTIVENESS & BEST PRACTICES

This track is non-industry specific and will focus on best practices in various aspects of governance, risk and compliance management.

Track 2 | LEARNING & ADVISORY

This track will be centered around corporate compliance and is designed with Learning Solutions & Advisory Services clients in mind

Track 3 | COMPLIANCE 360

This track will have sessions designed for the typical Compliance 360 user.

Track 4 | HEALTHCARE REVENUE PROTECTION

This track designed with healthcare providers in mind, especially those using Compliance 360’s Claims Audit Manager.

Attendees are not required to stay within a single track.  In fact, we encourage attendees to become familiar with other solutions they are not yet taking advantage of.  

To download the complete agenda, please click HERE

 

Agenda

LEGEND | SESSION TYPES

Professional Development – sessions will offer best practices and will be presented by an industry expert.  Session will be educational in nature.  Many of these sessions will qualify for CEUs.

Solution Optimization – sessions will focus on the usage of one of our products & services, including Compliance 360 software and Learning Solutions.  Sessions could be led by professional services, product management or YOUR PEERS!

All Sessions Have Been Pre-Approved for Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

CCB is awarding 1.2 units per session (max 11.6 for entire conference)

Each session also qualifies for 1.2 CPE (max 6 for entire conference)

1 AAHAM CEU is awarded for each 60 minute session qualifies

New!  CLEs Awarded by Florida Bar Association (12 General CLEs and 9 Business Litigation Credits)

Phillip Zane and Allen Grunes recognized

by Thomson Reuters

GeyerGorey LLP is pleased to announce that Phillip Zane and Allen Grunes have been named to the 2014 “DC Super Lawyers List” by Thomson Reuters.  Zane was recognized for his work in white collar criminal defense, antitrust litigation and appellate, while Grunes was recognized for his work in antitrust litigation, mergers & acquisitions and government relations.  Both attorneys will be listed in the May 2014 Washington DC Super Lawyers magazine.

The polling, researching, and selecting of “Super Lawyers” is designed to identify Washington, DC lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  Only 5 percent of Washington, DC-area attorneys receive this honor.

GeyerGorey is a boutique law firm founded by former DOJ antitrust prosecutors.  With twelve lawyers in five offices, the firm concentrates on criminal and civil antitrust litigation and counseling, matters involving federal procurement fraud, other federal criminal matters, and counseling on compliance with U.S. laws.

Texas Army National Guard Soldier Pleads Guilty to Defrauding the U.S.

To Date, 23 Individuals Have Pleaded Guilty in Ongoing Corruption Investigation

A soldier in the Texas National Guard pleaded guilty today for his role in a bribery and fraud scheme that caused more than $30,000 in losses to the U.S. National Guard Bureau, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Sergeant First Class Zaunmine O. Duncan, 38, formerly of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and one count of aggravated identity theft.  The case against Duncan arises from an investigation involving allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging corruption scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses.   To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 23 of whom have pleaded guilty.

According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (Docupak), to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP).   The G-RAP was a recruiting program that offered monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard.   Through this program, a participating soldier could receive bonus payments for referring another individual to join the Army National Guard.   Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account.   To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.

Duncan admitted that between approximately February 2008 and August 2010, while he was a recruiter for the National Guard, he obtained the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers and provided them to recruiting assistants, including co-conspirators Elisha Ceja, Annika Chambers, Kimberly Hartgraves and Lashae Hawkins, so that these recruiting assistants could use the information to obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses by falsely claiming that they were responsible for referring these potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard, when they were not.   In exchange for the information, Duncan admitted that he personally received a total of at least approximately $24,500 in payments from Ceja, Chambers, Hartgraves and Hawkins.

Duncan is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 28, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston.

Co-conspirators Ceja, Chambers, Hartgraves and Hawkins have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery in connection to this scheme.   Hartgraves is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2014.   Ceja, Chambers and Hawkins are each scheduled to be sentenced on June 26, 2014.   All of these sentencing hearings are set before U.S. District Judge Rosenthal in Houston.

The cases are being investigated by special agents from the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of Army CID’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.   This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Sean F. Mulryne, Heidi Boutros Gesch and Mark J. Cipolletti of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson of the Southern District of Texas.

Amedisys Home Health Companies Agree to Pay $150 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

Amedisys Inc. and its affiliates (Amedisys) have agreed to pay $150 million to the federal government to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting false home healthcare billings to the Medicare program, the Department of Justice announced today.  Amedisys, a Louisiana-based for-profit company, is one of the nation’s largest providers of home health services and operates in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

“It is critical that scarce Medicare home health dollars flow only to those who provide qualified services,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.  “This settlement demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring that home health providers, like other providers, comply with the rules and don’t misuse taxpayer dollars.”

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that, between 2008 and 2010, certain Amedisys offices improperly billed Medicare for ineligible patients and services.  Amedisys allegedly billed Medicare for nursing and therapy services that were medically unnecessary or provided to patients who were not homebound, and otherwise misrepresented patients’ conditions to increase its Medicare payments.  These billing violations were the alleged result of management pressure on nurses and therapists to provide care based on the financial benefits to Amedisys, rather than the needs of patients.

Additionally, this settlement resolves certain allegations that Amedisys maintained improper financial relationships with referring physicians.  The Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Statute restrict the financial relationships that home healthcare providers may have with doctors who refer patients to them.  The United States alleged that Amedisys’ financial relationship with a private oncology practice in Georgia – whereby Amedisys employees provided patient care coordination services to the oncology practice at below-market prices – violated statutory requirements.

“Combating Medicare fraud and overbilling is a priority for my office, other components of the Department of Justice, and United States Attorneys’ Offices across the country,” said Zane David Memeger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  “We have recovered billions of dollars in federal health care funds from schemes such as the one alleged in this case.  Those are health care dollars that should be spent on legitimate medical needs.”

“Home health services are a large and growing part of our federal health care system,” said Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.  “Health care dollars must be reserved to pay for services needed by patients, not to enrich providers who are bilking the system.”

“Amedisys made false Medicare claims, depriving the American taxpayer of millions of dollars and unlawfully enriching Amedisys,” said Joyce White Vance, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.  “The vigorous enforcement work by assistant U.S. attorneys in my office, along with their colleagues in North Georgia, Eastern Pennsylvania, Eastern Kentucky and the Civil Division of the Justice Department, has secured the return of $150 million to the taxpayers and stands as a warning to future wrongdoers that we will aggressively pursue them.”

“This settlement represents a significant recovery of public funds and an important victory for the taxpayers,” said Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.  “Fighting health care fraud and recovering tax payer dollars that fund our vital health care programs is one of the highest priorities for our district.”

Amedisys also agreed to be bound by the terms of a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General that requires the companies to implement compliance measures designed to avoid or promptly detect conduct similar to that which gave rise to the settlement.

“Improper financial relationships and false billing, as alleged in this case, can shortchange taxpayers and patients,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “Our compliance agreement with Amedisys contains strong monitoring and reporting provisions to help ensure that people in Federal health programs will be protected.”

This settlement resolves seven lawsuits pending against Amedisys in federal court – six in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and one in the Northern District of Georgia – that were filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery.  As part of today’s settlement, the whistleblowers – primarily former Amedisys employees – will collectively split over $26 million.

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 Secretary of Health and Human Services 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 $19.2 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $13.6 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The United States’ investigation was conducted by the Justice Department’s Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division; the United States Attorneys’ Offices for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Northern District of Alabama, Northern District of Georgia, Eastern District of Kentucky, District of South Carolina, and Western District of New York; the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service of the Department of Defense; and the Railroad Retirement Board’s Office of Inspector General.

The lawsuits are captioned United States ex rel. CAF Partners et al. v. Amedisys, Inc. et al. 10-cv-2323 (E.D. Pa.); United States ex rel. Brown v. Amedisys, Inc. et al., 13-cv-2803 (E.D. Pa.); United States ex rel. Umberhandt  v. Amedisys, Inc., 13-cv-2789 (E.D. Pa.); United States ex rel. Doe et al. v. Amedisys, Inc., 13-cv-3187 (E.D. Pa.); United States ex rel. Ognen et al. v. Amedisys, Inc. et al. 13-cv-4232 (E.D. Pa.); United States ex rel. Lewis v. Amedisys, Inc., 13-cv-3359 (E.D. Pa.); and United States ex rel. Natalie Raven et al. v. Amedisys, Inc. et al., 11-cv-0994 (N.D. Ga.).  The claims settled by the agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

14-422

Japanese Automotive Parts Manufacturer Agrees to Plead Guilty to Price Fixing and Bid Rigging on Automobile Parts Installed in U.S. Cars

Showa Corp., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Saitama, Japan, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $19.9 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to a one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, Showa engaged 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, certain pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies sold to Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and certain of its subsidiaries in the United States and elsewhere.  In addition to the criminal fine, Showa has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.  The plea agreement will be subject to court approval.

“Today’s guilty plea marks the 27th time a company has been held accountable for fixing prices on parts used to manufacture cars in the United States,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The Antitrust Division and its law enforcement partners remain committed to prosecuting illegal cartels that harm U.S. consumers and businesses.”

According to the charge, Showa and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy through meetings, conversations and communications in which they discussed and agreed upon bids and price quotations on pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies to be submitted to Honda.  Showa then submitted quotations in accordance with those agreements and sold pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies at collusive and noncompetitive prices.  Showa and its co-conspirators monitored adherence to the agreed-upon bid-rigging and price-fixing scheme.  The conspirators kept their conduct secret by using code names and meeting at remote locations, among other things.  Showa’s involvement in the conspiracy lasted from at least as early as 2007 until as late as September 2012.

Showa manufactures and sells pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies.  These devices provide power to the steering gear pinion shaft from electric motors to assist the driver to more easily steer the automobile.  Pinion-assist type electric powered steering assemblies include an electronic control unit and link the steering wheel to the tires but do not include the column, intermediate shaft, steering wheel or tires.

Including Showa, 27 companies and 24 executives have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry and have agreed to pay a total of $2.3 billion in criminal fines.

Showa Corp. is charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries maximum penalties of a $100 million criminal fine for corporations.  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.

Today’s charge is 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 the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s charge was brought by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.  Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office at 513-421-4310.

Former USAID contractor arrested on embezzlement charges

Afghan police working with American agents arrested an Afghan man on charges of stealing more than a half million dollars from an agricultural development fund supported by USAID.  The suspect in custody is Abdul Khalil Qadery, a former employee of Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a Bethesda, Maryland company.  The USAID press release can be found here.  There seems to have been no public participation or press release issued by the United States Department of Justice.  The likely explanations for this scenario, that often act in concert, are as follows: 1) the subject was an Afghan or a third party national, 2) there was insufficient evidence to charge the subject in United States courts and/or 3) there were extradition, removal or diplomacy considerations that applied.   USAID agents are pragmatic and routinely think creatively and “outside the box” to investigate and get their cases prosecuted. Afghanistan prisons are known for being particularly harsh and a maximum sentence of three years in an Afghanistan prison is considered extraordinarily “hard time”