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  • MoneyGram Agrees to Pay 125 Million Dollars to Settle Allegations that the Company Violated the FTC’s 2009 Order and Breached a 2012 DOJ Deferred Prosecution Agreement

    MoneyGram Agrees to Pay $125 Million to Settle Allegations that the Company Violated the FTC’s 2009 Order and Breached a 2012 DOJ Deferred Prosecution Agreement



    (November 8, 2018) - - Today, the Federal Trade Commission published the following information:

    MoneyGram International, Inc. has agreed to pay $125 million to settle allegations that the company failed to take steps required under a 2009 Federal Trade Commission order to crack down on fraudulent money transfers that cost U.S. consumers millions of dollars.

    The $125 million payment is part of a global settlement that resolves allegations that MoneyGram also violated a separate 2012 deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice.

    “The FTC’s 2009 order required MoneyGram to protect consumers from fraud through its money transfer system, and today we are holding MoneyGram accountable for its failure to do so,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “MoneyGram’s alleged failure to implement key provisions of the order allowed scammers to continue to use its money transfer system to rip off consumers.”

    Money transfers are a preferred method of payment for fraudsters because money sent through money transfer systems can be picked up quickly at locations all over the world, and once the money is paid out, it is all but impossible for consumers to get their money back. The systems also often allow scam artists to remain anonymous when receiving money from their victims.

    In its new filing addressing violations of the 2009 order, the FTC alleges that MoneyGram failed to implement the comprehensive fraud prevention program mandated by the 2009 order, which requires the company to promptly investigate, restrict, suspend, and terminate high-fraud agents.

    The 2009 order required MoneyGram to conduct timely fraud investigations of any agent location that has received two or more fraud complaints within 30 days; has fraud complaints totaling 5 percent or more of the location’s total monthly received transactions; or has displayed any unusual or suspicious money transfer activity. It also must terminate locations that may be complicit in fraud-induced money transfers.

    The FTC alleges that MoneyGram was aware for years of the high levels of fraud and suspicious activities involving certain agents, including large chain agents. For example, the standards MoneyGram established for taking disciplinary actions did not comply with the 2009 order, because those standards required agents to have unreasonably high fraud rates before they could be suspended or terminated, according to the FTC. At the same time, MoneyGram also often failed to promptly conduct the required reviews or to suspend or terminate agents, particularly those from larger locations with high levels of fraud.

    The FTC alleges, for example, that MoneyGram did not place any restrictions on one large chain agent until approximately mid-2013, even though the chain was the subject of more fraud complaints than any other MoneyGram agent worldwide. Some of the chain’s locations had fraud rates as high as 50 percent of the money transfer activity. When it did take disciplinary action, MoneyGram focused on lower-volume, “mom and pop” agents with high levels of fraud, while treating large chain agents differently, according to the FTC.

    The FTC also alleges that MoneyGram’s computerized monitoring system, aimed at blocking known fraudsters from using its service, malfunctioned for an 18-month period in 2015 and 2016. During that time, MoneyGram failed to block individuals that the company knew or should have known were using its service for fraud or to obtain fraud-induced money transfers.

    MoneyGram also allegedly violated the order by failing to properly vet its agents and by not providing appropriate training on how to detect and prevent consumer fraud for all its agents, including locations with high fraud rates.

    Under the 2009 order, MoneyGram also was required to record the complaints it receives about fraud-induced money transfers and to share that information with the Commission. Between January 1, 2013 and April 30, 2018, MoneyGram received at least 295,775 complaints about fraud-induced money transfers—a large majority of which involved a small percentage of agents. The Commission alleges, however, that the company, in some cases, failed to record information it received about fraud-induced money transfers and share it with the FTC.

    In addition to the monetary payment, MoneyGram has agreed to an expanded and modified order that will supersede the 2009 order and apply to money transfers worldwide. The modified order requires, among other things, that the company block the money transfers of known fraudsters and provide refunds to fraud victims in circumstances where its agents fail to comply with applicable policies and procedures. In addition, the modified order includes enhanced due diligence, investigative, and disciplinary requirements.

    The Commission wishes to thank the following agencies for their assistance in this matter: The Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Philadelphia Division Office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General.

    The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the stipulated order for compensatory relief and modified order for permanent injunction was 5-0. The FTC filed the stipulated order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.





    Credit: Federal Trade Commission
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  • Citibank to Pay More Than 38 Million Dollars for Improper Handling of American Depositary Receipts

    Citibank to Pay More Than $38 Million for Improper Handling of American Depositary Receipts



    Washington, DC - - (November 7, 2018) - - The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Citibank N.A. has agreed to pay $38.7 million to settle charges of improper handling of “pre-released” American Depositary Receipts (ADRs).

    ADRs – U.S. securities that represent foreign shares of a foreign company – require a corresponding number of foreign shares to be held in custody at a depositary bank. The practice of “pre-release” allows ADRs to be issued without the deposit of foreign shares provided brokers receiving them have an agreement with a depositary bank and the broker or its customer owns the number of foreign shares that corresponds to the number of shares the ADR represents.

    The SEC found that Citibank improperly provided ADRs to brokers in thousands of pre-release transactions when neither the broker nor its customers had the foreign shares needed to support those new ADRs. Such practices resulted in inflating the total number of a foreign issuer’s tradeable securities, which resulted in abusive practices like inappropriate short selling and dividend arbitrage that should not have been occurring.

    This is the second action against a depositary bank and sixth action against a bank or broker resulting from the SEC’s ongoing investigation into abusive ADR pre-release practices. Information about ADRs is available in an SEC Investor Bulletin.

    “Our charges against Citibank are the latest in our ongoing investigative effort to hold accountable Wall Street institutions that participated in an industry-wide fraud,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “Our investigation into these practices has revealed that banks and brokerage firms profited while ADR holders were unaware of how the market was being abused.”

    Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Citibank agreed to pay more than $20.9 million in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus $4.2 million in prejudgment interest and a $13.5 million penalty for a total of more than $38.7 million. The SEC’s order acknowledges Citibank’s remedial acts and cooperation in the investigation.

    The SEC’s continuing industry-wide investigation is being conducted by Andrew Dean, Joseph P. Ceglio, William Martin, Elzbieta Wraga, Philip Fortino, Richard Hong, and Adam Grace of the New York Regional Office, and the case is being supervised by Mr. Wadhwa.




    Credit: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
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  • U.S. Department of Justice Announces 35 Million Dollars to Battle the Distribution of Methamphetamine and Another 35 Million Dollars to Assist Children Impacted by the Opioid Crisis

    U.S. Department of Justice Announces $35 Million to Battle the Distribution of Methamphetamine and Another $35 Million to Assist Children Impacted by the Opioid Crisis



    (October 25, 2018) - - Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced $35 million in funding to support law enforcement agencies in combating the illegal manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, and prescription opioids, and another $35 million to establish new programs to provide services to children victims of the opioid crisis.

    The announcement was made at the Department’s National Opioid Summit, which coincides with Red Ribbon Week, a yearly October event encouraging students, parents, schools, and communities to promote drug-free lifestyles. Additionally, the upcoming Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 27 provides an opportunity for Americans to prevent overdose deaths and drug addictions before they start. Last year, the Department expanded on DEA's Drug Takeback Days and collected more than 2.7 million pounds of expired or unused prescription drugs since April 2017. The Department of Justice also recently announced a total of almost $320 million in unprecedented funding to combat the opioid crisis in America.

    "Ending the opioid crisis is a top priority for this administration, and under the leadership of President Trump, the Department of Justice has taken historic action," Attorney General Sessions said. "We have already seen a nearly 20 percent decline in opioid prescription rates nationwide in 2017 and 2018, and we are cutting opioid production by an average of 10 percent for next year. Preliminary data also show that after years of large and sustained increases, overdose deaths may have finally started to decrease. Today, we are announcing millions in grants intended to help the most vulnerable victims of the opioid crisis: children. The Department is investing almost $35 million to assist youth victims of this crisis through enhancing community programs, supporting partnerships with victim service providers, and establishing mentoring programs. We are also announcing another $35 million for state law enforcement in states with high levels of heroin and methamphetamine abuse. These measures take us one step closer to bringing this crisis to an end.”

    In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, an increase from the 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of these deaths can be attributed to opioids, including illicit fentanyl and its analogues.

    In FY 2018, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) made awards to 41 sites and a technical assistance provider totaling $29.8 million. This is in addition to about $4.8 million in transferred funds to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to support partnership between victim service providers and first responders who encounter an overdose where children are present. The OVC program will support partnerships between victim service providers and first responders who encounter an overdose where children are present, through direct services, training and technical assistance, and efforts to build direct victim assistance services through community-based systems. The funding will provide funding for school-based programs, foster care and child welfare programs, counseling and assistance programs, child advocacy programs, court-appointed special advocates, mentoring and tutoring programs, civil legal services, and other programs.

    The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office is awarding more than $27.8 million in grant funding to 17 state law enforcement agency task forces through the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF). AHTF provides two years of funding directly to law enforcement agencies in states with high per capita levels of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids. This funding will support the location or investigation of illicit activities related to the distribution of heroin or the unlawful distribution of prescription opioids.

    Through the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP), the COPS Office will also award $7.2 million to nine state law enforcement agencies. These state agencies have demonstrated numerous seizures of precursor chemicals, finished methamphetamine, laboratories, and laboratory dump seizures. State agencies will be awarded two years of funding through CAMP to support the investigation of illicit activities related to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.

    The complete list of COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program award recipients, including funding amounts, can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-re...04481/download

    The complete list of Anti-Heroin Task Force Program award recipients, including funding amounts, can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-re...04476/download

    The complete list of OVC awards can be found here: https://ojp.gov/newsroom/pressreleas...-10252018c.pdf





    Credit: U.S. Department of Justice
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  • U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao Announces Significant Upgrades to Chicago Rail Connection with More Than 130 Million Dollars in Infrastructure Grants

    U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao Announces Significant Upgrades to Chicago Rail Connection with More Than $130 Million in Infrastructure Grants




    Washington, DC - - (October 1, 2018) - - U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao was joined today by Governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) and members of the Illinois congressional delegation for a grant announcement marking the award of $132,034,680 to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The award funds the 75th Street Corridor Improvements and Argo Connections components of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (C.R.E.A.T.E) project. This funding is provided through the $1.5 billion Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program in partnership with the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, Chicago’s METRA Commuter Rail, Amtrak and the nation’s freight railroads.

    “The Illinois Department of Transportation received one of the largest INFRA grants this year, totaling $132 million through an exemplary public-private partnership created to improve freight connectivity, decrease congestion, and enhance safety along this nationally significant rail network,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

    The C.R.E.A.T.E. Program is an innovative public-private partnership involving the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the freight, passenger, and commuter railroads serving the Chicago region.

    “The rail improvement projects we initiate today are central to the economic vitality of Illinois,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner. “We are especially grateful to USDOT, Secretary Chao, and our federal partners for the support that green-lighted the plan.”

    The project will enhance the region’s economic vitality by improving several high-priority bottlenecks impacting the rail network in Chicago, which moves more than two million railcars a year. C.R.E.A.T.E will generate significant benefits for the movement of goods and people, and improve safety and access for the local communities.

    USDOT’s INFRA grants support the Administration’s commitment to fixing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. In June 2018, Secretary Chao announced INFRA grant awards totaling almost $1.5 billion. The INFRA grants empower states and local communities to make significant long-term infrastructure improvements. For more information, please visit www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/infragrants .





    Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation
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  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Announces 2.6 Million Dollars in Prizes to Redesign Dialysis as Part of KidneyX

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Announces $2.6 Million in Prizes to Redesign Dialysis as Part of KidneyX




    (September 28, 2018) - - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) have committed $2,265,000 in prize money for “KidneyX: Redesign Dialysis,” a prize competition that challenges the public to develop better treatment options for patients with kidney failure. This prize competition is the first in a planned series of Kidney Innovation Accelerator (KidneyX) prize competitions designed to develop innovative solutions that can prevent, diagnose, and/or treat kidney diseases.

    “With this first prize, KidneyX: Redesign Dialysis, we are looking for solutions that completely disrupt the way kidney failure is currently treated,” said Ed Simcox, HHS Chief Technology Officer, “We are asking innovators like engineers and scientists to propose and develop new technologies to redesign treatment for kidney failure. We look forward to seeing what the best and brightest envision for the future of kidney failure treatment in the first phase of Redesign Dialysis.”

    “In addition to redesigning dialysis, we are also redesigning how HHS tackles complex problems,” said Sandeep Patel, HHS KidneyX Program Director. “Innovators currently must navigate a disjointed and expensive path to bring new products and practices to market. KidneyX has brought together colleagues across our funding (National Institutes of Health), regulatory (Food and Drug Administration), and payment (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) roles to offer a more coherent and transparent path for innovators.”

    HHS and ASN designed this first prize after a year of gathering input from key stakeholders, including patients, nephrologists, investors, and researchers through listening sessions, Twitter chats and two Requests For Information.

    The Redesign Dialysis prize will run in two phases with a total prize purse of $2,625,000. The first phase, which will award up to 15 prizes of $75,000 each, launching in late October and running through February 2019 asks participants to design solutions or components of solutions that can replicate normal kidney functions and improve patient quality of life. The second phase, planned to run from April 2019 to January 2020, will ask participants to develop initial prototypes; this phase will award up to 3 prizes of $500,000 each. Participants may compete in the second phase even if they do not submit a solution in the first phase.

    Mark D. Okusa, MD, FASN, President of the American Society of Nephrology added, “The American Society of Nephrology is excited and honored to partner with HHS to collaborate on the first KidneyX Prize: Redesign Dialysis. We hope to attract new interest, potential collaborators, and ideas from across the medical and scientific communities to accelerate the development of disruptive new therapies.”

    Submissions for the first phase of the Redesign Dialysis prize will launch on Thursday, October 25, 2018 at ASN Kidney Week 2018. For more information on the ReDesign Dialysis prize visit, hhs.gov/idealab




    Credit: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services...
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  • More Than 50 Million Dollars in Grants from U.S. Department of the Interior Will Support State Wildlife Conservation Projects

    More Than $50 Million in Grants from U.S. Department of the Interior Will Support State Wildlife Conservation Projects



    Washington, DC - - (September 28, 2018) - - U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today announced over $50 million in funding to states through the State Wildlife Grant (SWG) Program. The funds will support state conservation efforts of non-game fish and wildlife.

    The SWG Program is the only federal program with the explicit goal of preventing endangered species listings.

    “Collaborative conservation is a joint effort,” said Secretary Zinke. “When the federal and state governments work together, we can achieve the best outcomes. This funding is an investment in the future of our wildlife. When we can recover species before they are listed under the Endangered Species Act, that means more federal resources for the other species that need it most.”

    The SWG Program helps states implement approved State Wildlife Action Plans, which list species and habitats in need of assistance. All 50 state and U.S. territorial wildlife agencies have these plans, which include detailed strategies to proactively protect species in greatest conservation need.

    “By working with local communities and other partners, state wildlife agencies serve as the foundation for protecting the nation’s wildlife and natural resources legacy,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Jim Kurth. “The State Wildlife Grant program, which benefits game and nongame species, supports these crucial state efforts.”

    Examples of how SWG Program funds are being used include:

    Using SWG funds, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will map connectivity corridors for a wide array of species. Many species, from migratory birds to furbearing mammals to big game, move throughout the landscape to complete their lifecycles. The tools produced through this project will improve species and habitat connectivity in Oregon through conservation-based design of residential and industrial developments, providing wildlife crossings along highways, careful siting of renewable energy development, open space conservation, and maintenance or restoration of important migratory stopover sites.

    Sustained commitment to large-scale, community-level species monitoring is an essential part of the California Wildlife Action Plan. Using SWG program funds for monitoring, the California Department of Fish and Game will improve its ability to detect average annual species population declines as small as 2 percent for up to 70 wildlife species throughout a 20-year period. Targeted species include black bear, bobcat and mule deer, among many others. These data and results will benefit species conservation efforts as well as habitat conservation planning initiatives by identifying locations where the state’s conservation dollars can have the greatest impacts.

    Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), with support from the SWG program, will document the population status, habitat usage and potential threats to the red-crowned parrot, which is present only in the lower Rio Grande Valley near Brownsville, Texas. Due to habitat loss and other threats, the species is in danger of requiring protection under the Endangered Species Act and is a current Service-listed candidate species. TPWD will build a network of local constituents engaged in monitoring and conservation of the bird and develop management recommendations for minimizing identified threats.

    The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources recently used SWG funds to determine if thermal stress reduces striped bass population fitness. Understanding striped bass sensitivity to increases in water temperature is critical for effective, long-term management of the state’s diverse aquatic environment. A healthy striped bass fishery also enhances angler satisfaction while supporting the significant economic benefits of South Carolina’s sport fishing industry.

    The Service is a key supporter of the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project, part of a nationwide effort to address the needs of declining wildlife populations. Several freshwater mussels, such as the recently listed yellow lance mussel in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, are considered by the Service to be threatened or endangered. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has taken a proactive approach to mussel conservation by releasing native captive-bred mussels into river systems they originally inhabited. Landowners, partner organizations, public land managers and many others have voluntarily used the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project to guide conservation work that benefits wildlife habitat and state residents.

    SWG Program grants are administered by the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and are allocated to states and territories according to a congressionally mandated formula based on population and geographic area. Grant funds must be used to address conservation needs, such as research, wildlife surveys, species and habitat management, and monitoring identified within State Wildlife Action Plans. The funds may also be used to update, revise or modify a state’s plan.





    Credit: U.S. Department of the Interior
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  • Department of Energy Announces 30 Million Dollars for Transformational Carbon Capture Technologies

    Department of Energy Announces $30 Million for Transformational Carbon Capture Technologies



    Washington, DC - - (September 27, 2018) - - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing up to $30 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) under the second closing of the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE’s) Novel and Enabling Carbon Capture Transformational Technologies funding opportunity announcement.

    Selected projects will support the development of solvent, sorbent, and membrane technologies to address scientific challenges and knowledge gaps associated with reducing the cost of carbon capture, supporting DOE’s goal to develop technologies that can significantly reduce the cost of CO2 capture from coal fired power plants.

    Specifically, projects must address one area of interest, Development of Novel Transformational Materials and Processes, with the following three subtopics:

    Subtopic 1A: Novel Solvents for Lab-Scale R&D

    Projects under this subtopic will support the development of high-performance capture systems via the design of new solvents and solvent mixtures with the necessary property combinations to lead to transformational technology development.

    Subtopic 1B: Novel Sorbents for Lab-Scale R&D

    Projects under this subtopic will support (1) development of tailor-made sorbent materials targeted to specific carbon capture applications and (2) development of specific sorbent materials that show enhanced long-term reactivity and recyclability and other properties.

    Subtopic 1C: Novel Membranes for Lab-Scale R&D

    Projects under this subtopic will seek to fill research gaps in either membrane transport properties or process designs. Research in transport properties should lead to new membrane materials with improved performance, while development of new process designs should reduce pressure drop and energy consumption.

    Hybrid systems are also eligible for this FOA based on the three subtopic technology types capable of revolutionary step-change reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) capture costs and energy penalties. Hybrid technologies proposed should be submitted to the most appropriate subtopic.

    The R&D requested in this FOA aligns with the scientific challenges and knowledge gaps identified in the DOE ministerial level Mission Innovation report, Accelerating Breakthrough Innovation in Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage, which can be found here . Successful applicant projects will join 11 other projects previously chosen by FE to receive approximately $28.9 million during the first closing of this FOA in Fiscal Year 2018.

    The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the projects. More information about NETL is available HERE . This FOA is supported by DOE’s Carbon Capture Program under the Office of Fossil Energy .





    Credit: U.S. Department of Energy...
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  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao Announces 47 Million Dollars for Congestion Relief on Interstate 5

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao Announces $47 Million for Congestion Relief on Interstate 5




    Washington, DC - - (October 2, 2018) - - U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao was today joined by Congressman Steve Knight (CA-25) at a formal grant announcement marking the award of $47,000,000 to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Interstate 5 Golden State Chokepoint Relief Program. The funding is provided through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

    “This $47 million INFRA grant will help increase much-needed capacity to reduce the congestion on the 5,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

    “The resources provided by this INFRA grant will dramatically improve traffic flow and the quality of life for everyone in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys who travels to Los Angeles. I am extremely grateful to Secretary Chao for her dedicated work to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Congressman Steve Knight.

    The project will improve economic vitality by adding capacity and increasing freight flow along a congested corridor. The project generates safety and mobility benefits by adding 13 miles of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes and 2.7 miles of new truck lanes, as well as improving bridges. It will provide greater access to the Los Angeles metropolitan area for passenger and freight traffic.

    INFRA grants support the Administration’s commitment to fixing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Grant awards totaling almost $1.5 billion were announced in June 2018. The grants create opportunities for all levels of government, and the private sector, to fund innovative infrastructure investments. For more information, please visit www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/infragrants .




    Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation
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  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commisssion Awards Almost 4 Million Dollars to Overseas Whistleblower

    U.S. Securities and Exchange Commisssion Awards Almost $4 Million to Overseas Whistleblower



    Washington DC - - (September 24, 2018) - - The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has awarded nearly $4 million to an overseas whistleblower whose tip led it to open an investigation and whose extensive assistance helped it bring a successful enforcement action.

    “Whistleblowers, whether they are located in the U.S. or abroad, provide a valuable service to investors and help us stop wrongdoing,” said Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “This award recognizes the continued, important assistance provided by the whistleblower throughout the course of the investigation.”

    The SEC has now awarded over $326 million to 59 individuals since issuing its first award in 2012. In that time, more than $1.7 billion in monetary sanctions have been ordered against wrongdoers based on actionable information received by whistleblowers.

    Whistleblowers may be eligible for an award when they voluntarily provide the SEC with original, timely, and credible information that leads to a successful enforcement action. Whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million. All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. No money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.

    By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that might directly or indirectly reveal a whistleblower’s identity.

    For more information about the whistleblower program and how to report a tip, visit www.sec.gov/whistleblower .






    Credits: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
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  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Awards 125 Million Dollars to Support Community Health Center Quality Improvement

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Awards $125 Million to Support Community Health Center Quality Improvement




    (August 15, 2018) - - Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $125 million in Quality Improvement grant awards to 1,352 community health centers across all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), health centers will use these funds to continue to improve quality, efficiency, and the effectiveness of healthcare delivery in the communities they serve. This announcement comes during National Health Center Week, the annual celebration that highlights the critical role community health centers play in providing high-quality, affordable, primary healthcare.

    “Community health centers provide coordinated, comprehensive, and patient-centered care to millions of Americans,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. “They have a track record of delivering quality care at significantly lower cost, and are vital partners in our movement toward a health system that delivers quality, affordable, value-based health care for all Americans.”

    HRSA’s Quality Improvement grant awards promote continued community health center improvements in the following categories: Expanding access to comprehensive care, improving care quality and outcomes, increasing comprehensive care delivery in a cost-effective way, addressing health disparities, advancing the use of health information technology, and delivering patient-centered care.

    Community health centers that exceed national clinical quality benchmarks, like Healthy People 2020 goals, receive special designation as National Quality Leaders. The top 30 percent of community health centers that achieve the best overall clinical performance receive designation as Health Center Quality Leaders.

    “Quality, value-based care is a priority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA-funded health centers serve as leaders in quality healthcare in the U.S.,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. “Nearly all HRSA-funded health centers demonstrated improvement in one or more clinical quality measures from the year prior, and these funds will support health centers’ work to improve the quality of care they deliver every day in their communities around the country.”

    HRSA also released new data compiled from health centers through its Uniform Data System (UDS) reporting, providing an update on health centers’ provision of primary healthcare services. In 2017, more than 27 million people (approximately 1 in 12 U.S. residents) relied on a HRSA-supported health center for affordable, accessible primary healthcare including:
    • One in nine children 17 years or younger;
    • One in five rural residents;
    • One in three people living in poverty; and
    • More than 355,000 U.S. veterans.
    For more than 50 years, health centers have delivered affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary healthcare services to patients. Today, nearly 1,400 health centers operate more than 11,000 service delivery sites nationwide.

    For a list of FY 2018 Quality Improvement Awards recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportu...ent/index.html

    To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about .




    Courtesy: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services...
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  • Federal Reserve Board fines Citigroup 8.6 Million Dollars for the Improper Execution of Residential Mortgage-related Documents and Announces Termination of 2011 Enforcement Action

    Federal Reserve Board fines Citigroup $8.6 Million for the Improper Execution of Residential Mortgage-related Documents and Announces Termination of 2011 Enforcement Action




    (August 10, 2018) - - The Federal Reserve Board on Friday announced an $8.6 million fine against Citigroup for the improper execution of residential mortgage-related documents.

    The $8.6 million penalty addresses the deficient execution and notarization of certain mortgage-related affidavits prepared by a subsidiary, CitiFinancial. The improper practices occurred in 2015 and were corrected. CitiFinancial exited the mortgage servicing business in 2017.

    Also on Friday, the Board announced the termination of an enforcement action from 2011 against Citigroup and CitiFinancial related to residential mortgage loan servicing. The termination of this action was based on evidence of sustainable improvements.





    Courtesy: Board of Governor of the Federal Reserve System
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  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao Renews Commitment to U.S. Infrastructure with 45 Million Dollars INFRA Grant for the LA 23 Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao Renews Commitment to U.S. Infrastructure with $45 Million INFRA Grant for the LA 23 Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement




    Washington, DC - - (August 8, 2018) - - U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today joined Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) at a formal grant announcement marking the award of $45,000,000 to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for the LA 23 Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement project. The funding is provided through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

    “This important project will enhance safety, decrease travel times and improve the quality of life for the people in this area,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

    “I thank Secretary Chao for coming to New Orleans and making these projects possible,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We discussed with local leaders the enhancements we can make at our ports, and the grant for the Belle Chasse Tunnel and Replacement Project that will improve access to Plaquemines Parish, Belle Chasse air station, and businesses along Highway 23.”

    The Louisiana Department of Transportation will receive $45,000,000 for the Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement project which replaces a 60+-year-old reinforced-concrete tunnel and the adjacent structural steel vertical-lift-span bridge crossing the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The replacement bridge will be a single mid-level fixed-span four-lane facility built to current standards. The new bridge will also include a separate protected pedestrian/bicycle lane.

    The Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement project will support the economic vitality of the New Orleans region by eliminating delays caused by frequent bridge openings on LA 23 and enabling the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to operate more efficiently. The project generates regional mobility and safety benefits through the reduction in travel time, vehicle operating costs savings and emissions reductions by constructing the new bridge facility.

    INFRA grants support the Administration’s commitment to fixing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure by creating opportunities for all levels of government and the private sector to fund infrastructure, using innovative approaches to improve the necessary processes for building significant projects, and increasing accountability for the projects that are built.

    For more information, please visit www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/infragrants .




    Courtesy: U.S. Department of Transportation
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  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Awards 43 Million Dollars to Help end Youth Homelessness

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Awards $43 Million to Help end Youth Homelessness


    Grants to support innovative housing programs in 11 communities


    July 24, 2018


    Washington, DC - - (July 13, 2018) - - To help end youth homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is awarding $43 million to 11 local communities, including five rural areas, through its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). This program supports a wide range of housing interventions including rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, and host homes.

    "Young people who are victims of abuse, family conflict, or aging out of foster care are especially vulnerable to homelessness," said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. "We're working with our local partners to support innovative new approaches to help young people find stable housing, break the cycle of homelessness and lead them on a path to self-sufficiency."

    To ensure the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program meets the needs of young people, HUD relied upon the recommendations of young people who experienced homelessness themselves. Many of the same youth participated in reviewing the applications of communities seeking YHDP funds. Their input helped ensure that the communities selected for funding understand the needs and preferences of the young people they will serve. HUD also worked closely with its federal partners at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Education (DOE), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to help develop the program and review applications.

    The 11 communities selected will collaborate with a broad array of partners including a youth action board and the local or state public child welfare agency. These communities now have four months to develop and submit to HUD a coordinated community plan to prevent and end youth homelessness. They will also participate in a program evaluation to inform the federal effort to prevent and end youth homelessness going forward and will serve as leaders in the nation on the work to end homelessness among young people.

    YHDP recipients will use funding for rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing, and to fund innovative programs, such as host homes. Recipients can begin requesting funding for specific projects as soon as they are ready. YHDP will also support youth-focused performance measurement and coordinated entry systems. Over the next several months, selected communities will work with their youth advisory boards, child welfare agencies, and other community partners to create a comprehensive community plan to end youth homelessness.

    HUD is awarding grants to the following communities where local applicants expressed their own vision for ending youth homelessness:

    San Diego, California: $7.94 million

    The Regional Task Force on the Homeless and their members have demonstrated success addressing homelessness through specific initiatives targeting specific homeless subpopulations. For example, San Diego and San Diego County are implementing a Youth Coordinated Entry System (CES) to match housing and services to the needs of young people, specifically those experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

    Louisville, Kentucky: $3.45 million

    This Continuum of Care (CoC) has a strong history of coordinating stakeholders to create systemic change in the homeless service system resulting in cutting the chronically homeless population in half. It has worked to effectively end veteran homelessness and has been working to make systemic change in addressing homelessness among youth since 2016 through the Homeless Youth Committee of the Louisville CoC.

    Boston, Massachusetts: $4.92 million

    Boston seeks to transition from a city where multiple programs individually serve Youth and Young Adults (YYA) at-risk of and experiencing homelessness, to a city with a coordinated, resourced, and data-informed system with common vision and goals. HUD is supporting this transition.

    NW Minnesota (Rural): $1.41 million

    Given the significant system changes involved and the specific challenges associated with the rural nature of its region and desire to assure the participation and respect the sovereignty of three Tribes, this Continuum of Care employs a single prioritization list and participation of nearly all homeless-dedicated beds.

    Nebraska (Rural): $3.28 million

    The mission of the Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) is to bring young people together with service providers, funders and decision-makers to create supportive communities committed to improving outcomes for youth ages 14-24 with foster care, juvenile justice or homelessness experiences. It is designed to build strong collaborations and infrastructure necessary for community ownership of youth well-being and the realization of improved youth outcomes.

    Northern New Mexico (Rural): $3.37 million

    Many local communities and pueblos in New Mexico have demonstrated a philosophical, political, and financial commitment to confronting social inequities, particularly as they affect underserved populations and children. Youth Services and Family Services, along with its partners, are proposing to extend this commitment through tested methodologies and novel approaches to a web of communities in a 14-county region. This rural outreach aims to join a national effort of like-minded individuals, groups, and municipalities to end youth homelessness.

    Columbus, Ohio: $6.07 million

    The Youth Action Board (YAB) and Youth Committee vision is for all youth to have a safe place to call home. Successful achievement of this vision in this community means all youth will have immediate and easy access to the support they need to prevent homelessness or, if needed, will have immediate and easy access to crisis housing and services to ensure that homeless episodes are rare, brief, and one-time.

    Nashville, Tennessee: $3.54 million

    The creation of the Key Action Plan represents a clear shift in Nashville and Davidson County, where the problem of youth homelessness is more broadly recognized and embraced beyond a small number of Youth and Young Adult (YYA) providers. With the direct support of more than 20 diverse stakeholders - including a wide range of community-based organizations, systems, and Young Adult (YA) - Nashville's Continuum of Care has increasingly tested new strategies and methodologies as it works to expand housing options for at-risk young people and to build momentum toward ending youth homelessness.

    Vermont (Rural): $2 million

    The Youth Homelessness Prevention Plan Committee (YHPPC) has engaged youth and youth providers in planning; conducted a youth baseline needs assessment; and incorporated youth perspectives into the Continuum of Care's Coordinated Entry policies and procedures.

    Washington (Rural): $4.63 million

    Washington State has one of the strongest commitments to addressing youth homelessness in the nation. Ongoing strategic efforts include: preventing youth from exiting public systems of care (such as child welfare and juvenile justice) into homelessness; developing a crisis response system for families and youth in conflict; and closing educational equity gaps for homeless students.

    Snohomish, Washington: $2.39 million The Snohomish County Human Services Department (HSD) will build on successful innovative practices that have transformed the Everett/Snohomish County Continuum o
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  • Deutsche Bank to Pay Nearly 75 Million Dollars for Improper Handling of ADRs

    Deutsche Bank to Pay Nearly $75 Million for Improper Handling of ADRs





    Washington, DC - - (July 20, 2018) - - The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that two U.S.-based subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank AG will pay nearly $75 million to settle charges of improper handling of “pre-released” American Depositary Receipts (ADRs).

    The case stems from a continuing SEC investigation into abuses involving pre-released ADRs. In proceedings against Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas (DBTCA), a depositary bank, and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. (DBSI), a registered broker-dealer, the SEC found that their misconduct allowed pre-released ADRs to be used for abusive practices, including inappropriate short selling and inappropriate profiting around dividend payouts.

    ADRs – U.S. securities that represent foreign shares of a foreign company – require a corresponding number of foreign shares to be held in custody at a depositary bank. The practice of “pre-release” allows ADRs to be issued without the deposit of foreign shares, provided brokers receiving them have an agreement with a depositary bank and the broker or its customer owns the number of foreign shares that corresponds to the number of shares the ADR represents. Information about ADRs is available in an SEC Investor Bulletin.

    In the order against DBTCA, the SEC found that it improperly provided thousands of pre-released ADRs over a more than five-year period when neither the broker nor its customers had the requisite shares. The order against DBSI found that its policies, procedures, and supervision failed to prevent and detect securities laws violations concerning borrowing and lending pre-released ADRs, involving approximately 850 transactions over more than three years.

    Last year, the SEC announced settled charges against brokers ITG Inc. and Banca IMI Securities Corp., which at times obtained pre-released ADRs from DBTCA and other depositaries and lent them to other brokers, including DBSI. The SEC also charged a former managing director and head of operations at broker-dealer ITG for failing to supervise personnel on ITG’s securities lending desk who improperly handled pre-released ADRs.

    “The SEC’s actions involving pre-released ADRs have revealed industry-wide abuses,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC Enforcement Division. “Failures at each institutional link in the chain of these transactions, from depositary bank to broker-dealer, left the markets for those ADRs ripe for potential abuse at the expense of ADR holders.”

    Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, added, “Our charges against DBTCA and DBSI show that entities can’t just rely on representations from other professionals when they have doubts about their validity. The charges also highlight the importance of supervising employees who use counterparties to engage in suspect transactions.”

    Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, DBTCA agreed to return more than $44.4 million of alleged ill-gotten gains plus $6.6 million in prejudgment interest and a more than $22.2 million penalty, nearly $73.3 million in total. DBSI, also without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, agreed to pay nearly $1.6 million, representing $1.1 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest and a nearly $500,000 penalty. The SEC’s orders acknowledge each entity’s cooperation in the investigation and remedial acts.

    The SEC’s continuing industry-wide investigation is being conducted by William Martin, Andrew Dean, Elzbieta Wraga, Philip Fortino, Joseph Ceglio, Richard Hong, and Adam Grace of the New York Regional Office and supervised by Mr. Wadhwa.




    Courtesy: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission...
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  • U.S. DOT Announces 7.7 million Dollars for First Round of Regional University Transportation Center Grants

    U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $7.7 Million for First Round of Regional University Transportation Center Grants



    Washington, DC - - (June 12, 2018) - - As part of the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has selected the University of Maine, Rutgers University, and Pennsylvania State University for regional grants authorized under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act for fiscal years 2016-2020. All three UTCs will receive their first-year funding now:
    • Region 1: University of Maine – Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center: $2,570,600
    • Region 2: Rutgers University - Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation: $2,570,600
    • Region 3: Pennsylvania State University – Center for Integrated Asset Management for Multi-modal Transportation Infrastructure Systems: $2,570,600

    In all, thirteen UTCs applied to the re-competition for the three regions. The centers focus on improving and extending the life of the transportation infrastructure. UTCs advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many modes and disciplines comprising transportation, and address vital workforce needs for the next generation of transportation leaders.

    For more information on the UTC program, contact pressoffice@dot.gov




    Courtesy: U.S. Department of Transportation
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