The staggering haul – nearly three times the amount from the previous year -- emanated from a combination of deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements between large corporations and US watchdogs.
Produced by the litigation department at the DC office of Los Angeles-based global law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, the figures were boosted by a whopping $3bn fine slapped on pharmaceuticals business GlaxoSmithKine for drug misbranding.
But, as reported in Corporate Counsel magazine, that British company was not the only multinational bumping up US treasury coffers. Fellow Britons HSBC Bank was clobbered for nearly $2bn for money laundering offences and sanctions busting.
Banks in crosshairs
Indeed, the report points out that the financial services sector took the biggest hit last year, with Swiss bank UBS in the frame for a $360 million fine, along with other institutions, such as BDO USA, Diamondback Capital Management, Imperial Holdings, ING Bank, MoneyGram International and Standard Chartered Bank.
In 2001, the US government netted $0.9bn in fines, with the previous high being $5.9bn in 2006. Last year, Washington bagged just $3.1bn.
Commenting on the massive spike, the chairman of Gibson Dunn’s DC litigation department, E Joseph Warin, said that a decade ago the ‘b-word’ (billion) was never envisaged in terms of annual fine totals, but today it is becoming ‘the new norm’.
Meanwhile, Washington’s competition watchdog pinpointed the pharmaceutical sector as being the most likely to face merger investigations.
The Legal Times reports that the latest report from the Federal Trade Commission shows that between 1996 and 2011 merging drugs companies triggered more of its enquires than businesses in any other field. The competition sleuths also said that proposed pharma deals were the least likely to survive once an investigation was launched.