DOJ Announces Plan to Improve Forensic Practitioners’ “Professional Responsibility”

Washington, D.C.-  The Department of Justie announces new steps to improve “professional responsibility” among forensics practitioners.

 The DOJ announcement:

Justice Department Announces New Steps to Advance and Strengthen Forensic Science

Changes Include New Code of Professional Responsibility for Practice of Forensic Science

The Department of Justice announced new steps today as part of its ongoing commitment to strengthening and advancing forensic science.  The department will implement a number of steps that will promote professional responsibility among forensics practitioners, institute best practices and advance the relationship between the academic research of forensic science and implementation in the field.

“Today’s announcement marks yet another step forward in the department’s efforts to strengthen the practice of forensic science in our nation’s laboratories and courtrooms,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates.  “We are continually looking at ways to ensure that forensic evidence is collected, analyzed and presented in a responsible and scientifically rigorous manner.”

The new policies include adopting a new code of professional responsibility that builds upon existing policies and accreditation requirements for departmental forensic examiners and laboratories. The department believes the code will improve education and guidance on professional responsibility while establishing a process for identifying and addressing violations of professional conduct.

Department forensic laboratories will also review their policies and procedures to ensure that forensic examiners are not using the expressions “reasonable scientific certainty” or “reasonable (forensic discipline) certainty” in their reports or testimony.  Department prosecutors will also abstain from using these expressions when presenting forensic reports or questioning forensic experts in court unless required by a judge or applicable law.  This decision complements the department’s efforts, announced earlier this year, to provide better guidance to forensic examiners and federal prosecutors on how to properly characterize the strength of forensic evidence in the courtroom.

The department also announced policies to implement greater transparency and access to forensic laboratory quality assurance documents and a plan to explore a grant funding of multiyear post-doctoral fellowships at federal, state and local forensic science service providers and forensic medicine service providers.

The new policies arose out of recommendations made by the National Commission of Forensic Science, which was established to advance the field of forensic science and make suggestions to the Attorney General on how to ensure that reliable and scientifically valid evidence is used when solving crimes.  The Attorney General’s decision to implement several of the commission’s recommendations was announced at a meeting of the commission today.  A memo was also sent to all department component heads directing the implementation of the recommendations.  Additional information on the department’s ongoing work to strengthen forensic science can be found at


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U.S. Gov Awards $1.5 Million in Lost CAFRA Suit, article and more below

Washington, D.C.-  The former Taiwanese First Family has won $1.5 million from the U.S. after filing a CAFRA suit, per DOJ.  Preceding the suit, the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched a bilateral initiative to investigate the family’s purchase of a New York City, NY condominium and Keswick, VA Estate (amounting to the aforementioned $1.5 million).  The HSI-ICE team discovered the properties were acquired via bribe dollars, tracing back to a 2004 payout from a Taiwanese banker, Yuanta Securities, in exchange for the then-presidency’s competition protection.  Although the First Family used a series of shell companies and offshore accounts to hide the source of the funds, the HSI-ICE team confiscated the properties upon exposition of the bribery.  

The DOJ article regarding the case is reproduced below with its original link following.

United States Returns $1.5 Million in Forfeited Proceeds from Sale of Property Purchased with Alleged Bribes Paid to Family of Former President of Taiwan

The Department of Justice announced today that it is returning approximately $1.5 million to Taiwan, the proceeds of the sale of a forfeited New York condominium and a Virginia residence that the United States alleged in its complaint were purchased with the proceeds of bribes paid to the family of Taiwan’s former President Chen Shui-Bian.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) made the announcement.

According to the civil forfeiture complaints filed in this case, Yuanta Securities Co. Ltd. paid a bribe of 200 million New Taiwan dollars (equivalent to approximately $6 million USD) to former First Lady Wu Shu-Jen in 2004, during former President Chen Shui-Bian’s administration.  The bribe was allegedly paid to ensure that the president would use his power so that the Taiwan authorities would not oppose Yuanta’s bid to acquire a financial holding company.  The former first family used Hong Kong and Swiss bank accounts, shell companies and a St. Kitts and Nevis trust to transfer the bribe proceeds needed to purchase the properties in Keswick, Virginia, and New York.  The properties were owned by the former first family of Taiwan through two limited liability companies.  In October 2012, U.S. District Courts in Virginia and in New York entered final forfeiture judgments against these two properties without opposition by the record owners.  The United States then sold these two properties and obtained approximately $1.5 million in proceeds, which is being returned to Taiwan.

“The Kleptocracy Initiative was established to prevent corrupt leaders from using the United States as a safe haven for their ill-gotten gains,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “We are committed to rooting out foreign official corruption and preventing corrupt officials from enjoying their spoils in the United States.  We appreciate the cooperation of Taiwan law enforcement in this matter.”

“After many years of collaborative work, we are happy to return these funds to their rightful owners,” said Executive Associate Director Edge.  “This is part of an ongoing effort by HSI to identify and seize illegal assets in the United States obtained by corrupt foreign leaders who abuse our financial systems in order to conceal the illicit proceeds of their crimes.  HSI special agents in our 62 offices in 43 countries will continue to work with our domestic offices and international law enforcement partners to hold these individuals accountable.”

ICE-HSI investigated the case, with assistance from the agency’s attaché in Hong Kong, HSI Miami’s Foreign Corruption Investigation Group and the Taiwan Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigations Division.  Trial Attorney Jennifer Wallis and former Deputy Chief Linda Samuel of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) prosecuted the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided valuable assistance.

The Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is carried out by a dedicated team of prosecutors in AFMLS, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, return those proceeds to benefit those harmed.  Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through institutions in the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to [email protected]

HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group targets corrupt foreign officials around the world who attempt to utilize U.S. financial institutions to launder illicit funds.  The group conducts investigations into the laundering of proceeds emanating from foreign public corruption, bribery or embezzlement.  The objective is to prevent foreign derived ill-gotten gains from entering the U.S. financial infrastructure, to seize identified assets in the United States and repatriate these funds on behalf of those affected.

Fourth Individual in NYPA Big-Rigging Scandal Comes Forward, Faces up to Three Years and $250,000

Washington, D.C.-  The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has recently come under multilateral investigation over allegations of bid rigging, tax fraud, and market fixture.  The DOJ, IRS, and New York Inspector General are all working jointly in this case and have subsequently made their fourth indivdual charge.  John Simonlacaj (White Plains, NY) has confessed to aiding the NYPA in filing false tax returns and now faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The original article is reproduced below with its link following.


Fourth Individual Charged in Ongoing New York Power Authority Procurement Fraud Investigation

The Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New York State Inspector General, which are all conducting a joint federal and state investigation into bid-rigging, fraud and tax-related offenses in the award of contracts at the New York Power Authority (NYPA), announced today that a Westchester County, New York, resident pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return.

According to the one-count felony charge filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in White Plains, New York, John Simonlacaj caused another individual to file a Form 1040 for the tax year 2010 that substantially understated that individual’s taxable income.  Simonlacaj pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Our investigation into bid rigging and fraud by companies supplying the New York Power Authority has uncovered a variety of criminal activity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Filing a false tax return is a serious offense and we are pleased to have worked with our partners in law enforcement to prosecute the criminal violation.”

“We say many times the FBI won’t stop until we find everyone responsible for their roles in a criminal investigation,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.  “These charges prove our tenacity in digging until we hit the bottom of the pile and uncover anyone who had a part in criminal wrongdoing.”

“Today’s plea marks yet another defendant admitting guilt following a bid rigging investigation that began at the state level. My office and those of my federal law enforcement partners, will continue to follow the evidence wherever it may lead,” said New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

“Mr. Simonlacaj is now held accountable for his role in filing a false tax return,” said Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen of the IRS Criminal Investigation New York Field Office.  “Towards pursuing its goal of ensuring that that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, IRS Criminal Investigation remains committed to this ongoing investigation.”

The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office with the assistance of the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and the New York State Office of the Inspector General.  NYPA is cooperating with the investigation.  Anyone with information on bid rigging or other anticompetitive conducted related to the award or performance of municipal and state contracts should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit http://www.just

Original Link


CCC’s: DOJ to Hire Compliance Expert

Here’s a link to a Reuters story by Karen Freifeld reporting that United States Department of Justice is hiring a Compliance Expert. The compliance expert will help evaluate whether to charge corporations that fail to detect and prevent wrongdoing by employees. The DOJ compliance expert will advise whether he believes the company had a robust compliance program or one that was window dressing–or something in between.

A candidate has been reportedly offered the position and is undergoing the background check process. The position is in the Criminal Division of DOJ, which has responsibility for health care, securities and FCPA violations, among others. This development will not directly affect the Antitrust Division, which sometimes has policies different from the Criminal Division. But, the Antitrust Division recently, for the fist time ever, gave credit to a company in a plea agreement for a compliance program. I wrote about this in a previous Cartel Capers post: Senior Antitrust Division Official Comments on Credit for Compliance Programs.  This new compliance position within the DOJ is another important step forward in the recognition by the DOJ of the valuable role played by compliance programs.

Thanks for reading.