The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation that would redirect a portion of money recovered through fraud cases back into Justice Department anti-fraud activities.
The panel voted 16-2 to report out of committee the Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act of 2011 introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top panel Republican. Republicans Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Mike Lee of Utah voted against the bill.
The DOJ currently is allowed to hold on to 3 percent of the funds it takes in through its civil debt collection litigation activities to use for agency-wide expenditures. The bill would increase that amount to 3.5 percent, drawing from fines and penalties obtained in fraud cases, dictating that the additional 0.5 percent is used only on fraud enforcement.
But the DOJ would be barred from spending any of the money on enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a foreign bribery law.
Enforcement of the FCPA, which prohibits bribes to foreign officials to win or keep business, brought in more than $1 billion in penalties in fiscal year 2010, about a third of the money collected by the Criminal Division. The FCPA was kept out at Grassley’s request, but Leahy didn’t oppose it, a Senate Judiciary Committee aide told Main Justice. The Republican wanted the FCPA excluded from the legislation because he didn’t want the debate around it to cloud the bill’s prospects, a Grassley staffer told Main Justice.