DOJ Announces New Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this week announced that it was disbanding the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, established under the Obama Administration. In its place, pursuant to an Executive Order, the DOJ plans to establish the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud (the Task Force). The purpose—according to a DOJ press release—is to deter fraud on consumers, especially veterans and the elderly, and the government, specifically as it relates to health care.
Additionally, the Task Force will focus on digital currency fraud, money laundering, securities and commodities fraud, and "fraud affecting the general public," the Executive Order states. It will provide guidance both for the investigation and prosecution of specific fraud cases and provide recommendations "on fraud enforcement initiatives."
The Task Force is a multiagency effort. Although the DOJ will lead the group under Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Executive Order directs him to include a host of other federal agencies—from the Secretary of Education to the Commissioner of Social Security. Of the many agencies named in the Executive Order, representatives from three of the agencies joined Deputy AG Rosenstein in the formal announcement: the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission.
The Acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, echoed a sentiment shared by all four agencies, saying "[i]nteragency cooperation is incredibly important to these complex issues." Acting Director Mulvaney also favorably cited the "growing cooperation" among the DOJ and other federal and state agencies.
The announcement comes just two months after the Deputy Attorney General announced new DOJ policies that highlighted interagency cooperation. These policies, which will be added to the U.S. Attorneys' Manual, advise federal prosecutors on how to avoid duplicative penalties—as well as directing U.S. Attorneys to coordinate with other federal and state regulators to ensure that duplicative fines are not imposed. In addition, U.S. Attorneys are instructed to consider the overall fine that may be imposed in order to guarantee that the amount of fines, penalties, and forfeiture is appropriately tailored.
This new Task Force goes well beyond these new DOJ policies. Beyond providing a mechanism to help coordinate interagency fraud prosecutions and enforcement initiatives, it also is intended to advise the Attorney General and Congress on interagency cooperation. Specifically, the Task Force is directed to advise the Attorney General on ways to "enhance cooperation" among federal, state, local, and tribal authorities "in the investigation and prosecution of fraud." It is also tasked with proposing to Congress any changes in rules, regulations, or policies that would "improve the effective investigation and prosecution of fraud and other financial crimes."