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Pandemic Relief Investigations, Enforcement & Litigation

Practice Overview

The federal government’s financial response to the Covid-19 pandemic is measured in trillions of dollars, and the intensity of oversight related to that response reflects this unprecedented commitment. All involved in the government’s response, particularly financial services providers, should expect increased scrutiny of how those dollars have been and will be spent.

Buckley’s white collar, enforcement, congressional investigations, class actions, complex civil litigation, and False Claims Act & FIRREA teams are prepared to assist with government and congressional inquiries, examinations, investigations, and government and private party litigation that arise from the pandemic response. We work closely with our financial services regulatory practices to combine the firm’s core substantive experience with our deep  knowledge of government investigations and litigation of all kinds.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created both a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Response and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. The SIGPR and the PRAC join a host of existing inspectors general at federal agencies, including at the departments of Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs, the Small Business Administration, and the prudential banking regulators that are devoting substantial resources to relief oversight. All of these agencies are also currently working with the Department of Justice to build both civil and criminal cases against institutions and individuals allegedly engaging in, or facilitating, waste, fraud, and abuse.

Other federal agencies with statutory authority in the existing federal and state consumer protection framework are also active in overseeing the government’s pandemic response. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued numerous information requests covering a host of financial products, and the Federal Trade Commission has opened investigations related to pandemic relief conduct. State attorneys general are monitoring complaint volumes and overseeing compliance with state laws and regulations enacted to supplement the federal response.

Congress, too, has established its role, as the CARES Act’s Congressional Oversight Commission joins Congress’s standing committees – along with any future select committees – to conduct investigations and hold hearings regarding pandemic relief efforts.

Financial institutions are facing class action and other litigation, in particular matters challenging their loan underwriting and origination under the Paycheck Protection Program. We anticipate further litigation regarding the various governmental efforts to address the pandemic, including potential civil False Claims Act and qui tam whistleblower actions.

We have gathered here relevant materials that describe civil and criminal oversight and relevant authority, inspectors general and how they operate, litigation issues, and congressional oversight initiatives.

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Topic Spotlight: Inspector general investigations

More than 70 inspectors general throughout federal agencies and other governmental entities have the power to issue subpoenas, coordinate with civil enforcement agencies, make referrals to and work with criminal prosecutors, issue public reports, and liaise with Congress. These investigations and potential enforcement actions can significantly strain resources, impede normal business activity, and cause reputational damage.

Buckley regularly guides clients through these inquiries and investigations, including those triggered by or involving whistleblowers, as well as handles the civil and criminal enforcement actions and congressional inquiries that arise from IG investigations.

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