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False Claims Act & FIRREA

Practice Overview

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been aggressive in its enforcement of the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), and Buckley Sander’s enforcement attorneys have extensive experience guiding our clients through the enforcement process in this uniquely challenging environment and at each stage of that process.

First, we work with clients on proactive measures to identify compliance risk and take corrective action with the goal of avoiding any investigation or enforcement action. On these efforts, our FCA/FIRREA enforcement attorneys routinely work hand-in-hand with the firm’s regulatory and compliance attorneys, who are steeped in the intricate regulatory issues that often underlie such investigations. Buckley Sandler also assists clients throughout the life cycle of government agency audits, which can often provide the impetus for an investigation or enforcement action. Our experience includes the preparation of responses to audit reports, reviewing and revising compliance documents, conducting risk assessments, overseeing loan file reviews, assisting with annual recertification, and responding to notices of violation and matters involving the Mortgagee Review Board (MRB). We also help clients minimize the risk of FCA/FIRREA exposure by conducting effective internal investigations into the allegations of whistleblowers.

Second, our team has extensive experience handling FCA/FIRREA matters at the investigative stage, helping our clients manage their compliance with the often burdensome civil investigative demands (CIDs) and subpoenas issued by the DOJ, U.S. Attorney's Offices, and federal agency offices of inspectors general (OIGs). FCA/FIRREA investigations can be extensive in their reach and extremely costly to comply with, and we successfully work with our clients to minimize the burden and intrusiveness of these sometimes sprawling investigations by engagging in effective negotiations with the government. Also, at the conclusion of these investigations, we have a proven track record of convincing the government to decline enforcement action against our clients, and in negotiating successful pre-suit settlements when litigation cannot be avoided. Our team includes several former government enforcement attorneys, who provide our clients with unique insight into the government’s approach to these cases, and who can lend additional credibility in pre-suit negotiations.

Finally, when FCA/FIRREA litigation cannot be avoided, we know how to litigate — and win — these cases. Our FCA/FIRREA attorneys are not only steeped in the subject matter and recognized thought leaders in this area, but they are also experienced trial and appellate attorneys. We have regularly been successful in getting litigated FCA cases dismissed by the courts at the earliest possible stage.

Significant representations include:

  • Successfully represented multiple large mortgage lenders in FCA investigations into Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lending, reaching pre-suit settlement agreements with the DOJ in each case that included no admission of liability, no administrative sanction, and no prospective relief
     
  • Successfully represented multiple top banks in responding to the DOJ’s “Operation Choke Point” FIRREA investigation into third-party payment processing, in which the government declined to pursue enforcement action
     
  • Successfully represented a top research university in reaching a favorable, pre-suit settlement of an FCA qui tam investigation relating to federally sponsored research grants
     
  • Successfully represented a top mortgage loan servicer in an FCA qui tam investigation into servicing and loss mitigation activities, in which the government declined to intervene in the case; the district court dismissed the case on motion, and the Sixth Circuit upheld the dismissal
     
  • Successfully represented a national financial services firm in an FCA qui tam investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, in which the government declined to intervene in the case and the relator’s case was voluntarily dismissed

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