By Neil Gordon, Project on Government Oversight
In the 72 days between Election Day last year and the inauguration, federal agencies obtained more than $20 billion in penalties and settlements from dozens of companies accused of defrauding consumers or risking public health and safety.
That’s the key finding of the nonprofit watchdog Good Jobs First, which expanded its Violation Tracker database of corporate misconduct this week. Among the new cases added to Violation Tracker are the flurry of high-dollar settlements announced in the final days of the Obama administration:
- Deutsche Bank ($7.2 billion): misleading investors in its sale of residential mortgage-backed securities
- Credit Suisse ($5.3 billion): making false and irresponsible representations about residential mortgage-backed securities
- Volkswagen ($4.3 billion): conspiracy to cheat US emissions tests
- Takata Corporation ($1 billion): fraudulent conduct relating to the sale of defective airbag inflators
- Moody’s ($864 million): providing flawed credit ratings for residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations
- Western Union ($586 million): failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud
“Given the Trump administration’s focus on deregulation rather than enforcement, the Obama administration’s wave of case resolutions may represent Uncle Sam’s last hurrah against business misconduct for some time,” Good Jobs First Research Director Philip Mattera said in a press release.
Violation Tracker, launched in 2015, now contains 120,000 enforcement actions by 39 federal agencies in cases ranging from accounting fraud, consumer scams, and public health and safety hazards, to false claims, price fixing, and bribery. The database also added whistleblower retaliation cases handled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Violation Tracker is a good complement to POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, which tracks fewer companies but covers a longer time period and isn’t limited to cases initiated by the federal government.
Good Jobs First maintains other useful corporate and government accountability resources. Its Subsidy Tracker database, about which we’ve blogged before, collects information on local, state, and federal economic development subsidies and other financial assistance to businesses. The organization also compiles corporate “rap sheets” on dozens of the world’s largest and most controversial companies.