The U.S. Commerce Department has launched an investigation to see whether a flood of aluminum imports from China and elsewhere was compromising U.S. national security.

The U.S. investigation seeks to understand the rising tide of aluminum imports. The Commerce Department is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are dumping aluminum foil into the U.S. market below cost and benefiting from unfair subsidies.Part of the justification for the investigation was that U.S. combat aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet require high-purity aluminum that is now produced by only one smelter, Century Aluminum Co.

He said that company could probably meet U.S. peacetime needs, but not if the United States needed to ramp up defense production for a conflict. The same high-purity aluminum goes into armor plating for military vehicles and naval vessels, he said.The investigation will determine if there is sufficient domestic aluminum capacity to meet U.S. defense needs and will also assess the effects of lost jobs, skills and investments on national security, Ross said.

Tax experts believe that between $7.6 trillion to $32 trillion are hidden in offshore tax and secrecy accounts. More than 70 percent of big American companies have subsidiaries in offshore havens. One major focus of the Trump team investigations is expected to be the island of Cyprus, a secrecy haven for Russian oligarch money. For a while it wasn’t even considered a haven because its sinking banks loaned too much money to crumbling Greece. But dirty Russian money didn’t stop flowing to the island nation.

 Cyprus  is the only European Union country that has allowed the Russian military to use its bases for operations. According to the Democratic Coalition, as related by the Huffington Post, president Donald Trump has two companies registered there.

Wilbur Ross, Trump’s secretary of commerce, was vice chairman of Cyprus’s largest institution, the Bank of Cyprus. He has invested $500 million in the bank, which failed once, and which has had a top officer who was an ex-KGB friend of Vladimir Putin. But since Ross made his $2.5 billion in assets by investing in troubled businesses, his Cyprus adventure may not get him in trouble. Trump, who doesn’t do much borrowing from American banks, may be able to explain any Cyprus borrowing he may have done.

The British engineer who reported illegal discharges of oil-contaminated waste from a Princess Cruises ship was awarded $1m related to the line’s $40 million dollar pollution penalty.US District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami ordered that $1m go to the engineer who reported the illegal discharges to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which in turn provided the evidence to the US Coast Guard.

The recently hired engineer on Caribbean Princess reported that a so-called ‘magic pipe‘ had been used on Aug. 23, 2013, to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. The evidence from the whistleblower, including photographs of the magic pipe, led to an inspection of the cruise ship both in England and when it reached New York on Sept. 14, 2013. During each of the separate inspections certain crew members concealed the illegal activity by lying to the authorities in accordance with orders they had received from Caribbean Princess engineering officers.

The US Department of Justice case found illegal practices took place on five Princess ships—Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess.

International Tutoring Services, LLC, f/k/a International Tutoring Services, Inc., and d/b/a Hospice Plus; Goodwin Hospice, LLC; Phoenix Hospice, LP; Hospice Plus, L.P.; and Curo Health Services, LLC f/k/a Curo Health Services, Inc.will  pay $12.21 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals. Curo Health Services is headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina and operates eight hospice affiliates across 18 states. In September 2010, Curo Health Services purchased Hospice Plus, Goodwin Hospice, and Phoenix Hospice, and consolidated the hospice companies under the Hospice Plus brand, which operates primarily in and around Dallas, Texas.

The settlement resolves allegations brought by several whistleblowers that Hospice Plus, Phoenix Hospice, and Goodwin Hospice submitted claims to Medicare and Texas Medicaid that were rendered false as a result of the payment of kickbacks by the hospices, its owners and employees, and others. There were two alleged  schemes. First, from 2007 through 2012, kickbacks were allegedly paid to American Physician Housecalls, a physician housecall company, in exchange for patient referrals to these hospice companies. They took the form of sham loans, a free equity interest in another entity, stock dividends, and free rental space. Second, from 2007 through 2014, kickbacks were allegedly paid to medical providers, including doctors and nurses as well as hospitals and long-term care facilities, in exchange for patient referrals to these hospice companies. The alleged kickbacks took the form of cash, gift cards, and other valuable items.

In addition to reaching a settlement with these defendants, the United States also requested that the Court permit the United States to intervene in and prosecute the fraud claims against two former executives, Dr. Bryan White and Suresh Kumar.

Habert Management corporation of Alabama has agreed to pay $40 million to settle allegations that  members of Harbinger’s investment manager failed to pay millions in New York State tax on performance income for several years. “Our investigation uncovered a brazen and deliberate decision to avoid paying millions in taxes owed to New York State,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Harbert Management made a clear choice to skirt the rules and as a result, ordinary New York taxpayers were left footing the bill. On tax day, this sends a forceful reminder to businesses that if they think they can get away with tax evasion in New York, they should think again.”

The settlement is the largest tax-related recovery by the Attorney General’s office, resulting from an action filed under the New York False Claims Act, which was amended to cover tax claims in 2010 in a bill sponsored by then-State Senator Eric Schneiderman.

When businesses operate both inside and out of New York City and State, they must apportion for tax purposes that part of their income derived from or connected with New York.  In 2001, Harbert Management Corporation, an investment management company based in Birmingham, Alabama, sponsored and organized the Harbinger Capital Partners Master Fund I Limited hedge fund, hiring Philip Falcone as its primary investment decision-maker.

I am trying to find interesting books and films both new and not so new and this weekend, I stumbled on one. That is how these things seem to be found for me, mistake and happenstance when I am looking. Perhaps someone will find a more systematic method of stirring up quality writing forgotten and re-found. I suspect it will be an algorithm which sees patterns of thought or ideas. Nonetheless, my find this weekend was a film called The Man Who Knew Infinity which is a 2015 biographical drama based on the 1991 book by Robert Kanigel by the same name. It tells the amazing and true story of Srinvasa Kamanujan, who grew up poor in Madras India and who possessed incredible skill and insight for mathematics. He is brought to Trinity College and finally publishes his work and is recognized as one of the most insightful mathematicians who ever lived. I found the film engaging enough but what I really want to do is to read the book to try to understand how someone without formal education could train his mind to create new mathematical theorems. Of course there is much more to Mr. Kamanujan’s life but I won’t spoil it for you here. I will, however, write a review of the book next week.

Jeffrey Newman

Lawrence Young, D.P.M a Detroit podiatrist has been charged with participating in a $13.9 million healthcare fraud scheme in which he is accused of performing unnecessary foot surgeries on patients.

Prosecutors unsealed an indictment Thursday revealing that , Young has been charged with six counts of healthcare fraud, says the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Young is accused of making fraudulent claims for unneeded foot surgeries and other podiatric services that he never delivered. According to the indictment, Young owned two Michigan practices, Dearborn Podiatric Services and Georgetown Podiatric Services.

Reports of Barclay’s Chief Executive Joes Staley’s efforts to locate and unmask the company whistleblower have apparently kicked off a major investigation by the Department of Justice to see if there was a violation of the Dodd Frank Act’s whistleblower protections. The letter was critical of the hiring of a senior bank exec. The New York Post has reported that Staley asked bank staff to contact postal inspectors to trace the author of the whistleblower letters sent to Board members after they hiring of Tim Main.

Barclay’s Board concluded that Staley had made an “honest” mistake believing he could identify the whistleblower, whose identity has not been discovered. They reprimanded Staley and adjusted his compensation significantly. Depending on what happens with the numerous investigations now pending, this may not be enough, especially of the scandal has a significant effect on the stock price.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers

The Virginia Department of Social Services is paying the United States $7,150,436 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act in its use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Department of Justice announced today. SNAP was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Under SNAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides eligible low-income individuals and families with financial assistance to buy nutritious food. Since 2010, SNAP has served on average more than 45 million Americans per month, and provided more than $71 million annually.

The federal government funds SNAP benefits, it relies on the states to determine whether applicants are eligible for benefits. to administer those benefits. However, USDA requires that the quality control processes the states use ensure that benefits are correctly awardedand accurately report states’ error rates in making eligibility decisions, according to the Justice Department.

VDSS admitted that, beginning in 2010, it retained Julie Osnes Consulting, a quality control consultant, to reduce its SNAP benefits determination error rate by training VDSS quality control workers to “use whatever means necessary” to find a benefits decision “correct” rather than finding an error. VDSS also admitted that if its quality control staff “could not find a way to make a benefits decision correct,” they were instructed to “find a reason to ‘drop’ the case, or eliminate it from the sample.” VDSS acknowledged that this outcome-driven method, as implemented by VDSS between 2010 and 2015, “injected bias into the case review process” because it was designed to lower VDSS’s reported error rate by falsely reporting errors as “correct” or eliminating them from the sample. Through its use of these biased methods, VDSS was improperly awarded USDA performance bonuses for 2011, 2012, and 2013.

The Department of Justice joined whistleblower’s lawsuit against  UnitedHealth Group accused of fraud in its popular Medicare Advantage health plans. The suit, first brought by whistleblower James Swoben in 2009, on Friday in federal court in Los Angeles accused the insurer of “gaming” the Medicare Advantage payment system by “making patients look sicker than they are.”  Damages may exceed $1 billion according to his counsel. Medicare Advantage is an alternative to traditional Medicare. The privately run health plans have enrolled more than 18 million elderly and people with disabilities — about a third of those eligible for Medicare — at a cost to taxpayers of more than $150 billion a year.

 

On Monday, the government said it wants to consolidate the Swoben case with another whistleblower action filed in 2011 by former UnitedHealth executive Benjamin Poehling and unsealed in March by a federal judge. Poehling also has alleged that the insurer generated hundreds of millions of dollars or more in overpayments.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.