Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Leahy-Grassley Anti-Fraud Bill

WASHINGTON (Thursday, May 19, 2011) – The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved legislation authored by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to bolster law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute fraud. 

The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will enhance existing efforts to investigate fraud, including the scourge of mortgage, foreclosure, financial and health care fraud that has victimized thousands of unsuspecting Americans.  The legislation will fill key statutory gaps to account for modern types of fraud, strengthening computer fraud and identity theft.  The bill also gives the Secret Service the needed authority to more effectively investigate fraud.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act also increases accountability by requiring the Justice Department to better manage and account for key spending.

“The renewed focus on fraud enforcement has yielded significant results,” said Leahy.  “Hardworking, taxpaying Americans deserve to know that their government is doing all it can prevent fraud and hold those who commit fraud accountable for their crimes. Fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars are issues Democrats and Republicans have long worked together to address.  I thank Senator Grassley for his commitment to these issues, and am pleased that the Committee has approved this important bill.”

“Protecting taxpayer dollars is a critical responsibility entrusted to every member of Congress and it’s one that Senator Leahy and I have successfully worked together on for many years.  It’s a matter of good government and respect for taxpayers,” Grassley said. “This legislation includes provisions that will help law enforcement and the Department of Justice investigate and prosecute the fraud that has victimized thousands of innocent Americans.  And, just as importantly, the legislation includes a number of transparency provisions to help make sure the funds and manpower provided to the Justice Department to fight fraud are used efficiently and effectively.  These issues transcend partisan politics, and I’m glad this important bi-partisan legislation was passed today.”

Leahy and Grassley introduced the Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act earlier this month.  The legislation will direct a small portion of funds collected by the government in fines and penalties to investigating, prosecuting, and litigating fraud cases.  In the last fiscal year alone, the Department of Justice recovered well over $6 billion through fines and penalties.  The Leahy-Grassley legislation calls for approximately $15 million a year to be reinvested in anti-fraud efforts.  After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute fraud were redirected to anti-terrorism efforts.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will help restore some of these resources.

In 2009, Leahy and Grassley authored the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, which strengthened tools and increased resources available to federal prosecutors to find, prosecute and jail those who commit financial fraud.  The bill was among the first signed into law by President Obama in 2009.  Leahy and Grassley also worked on key anti-fraud provisions that passed as part of health care reform and Wall Street reform legislation last year.

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