Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen in a November 17, 2011 published speech reported that in the fiscal year 2011, the DOJ filed 90 criminal cases — the highest number in the past 20 years. The DOJ agreed to more than $520 million in criminal fines, which is close to the amount in 2010 (which totaled 60 cases.) In this year’s 90 cases, 27 corporations in the real estate, optical disk drives, auto parts, air cargo, and financial services industries were charged along with 82 individuals.

Pozen also disclosed that the DOJ has been conducting an international cartel investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, which already resulted in the guilty pleas of one corporation and three individuals, $200 million in fines, and three jail terms for the executives involved in the conspiracy.

In the real estate industry, Pozen said that the DOJ continues its investigations into bid rigging conspiracies at public real estate foreclosure auctions and tax lien auctions. With the help of the FBI, the DOJ agents ferreted out the ways in which the participants coordinated their bids. To date, 32 defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, according to Pozen.

The DOJ remains focused on criminal activity in the financial services sector. Pozen noted that together with several federal and state agencies, the DOJ has been investigating a criminal conspiracy involving bid rigging in the municipal bond investments market, resulting in nine pleas of individuals this year. These investigations, which are ongoing, impelled JPMorgan Chase to enter into an agreement to resolve its role in the conspiracy, and agree to pay $228 million in restitution, penalties, and disgorgement to federal and state agencies. Earlier in the year, UBS AG also agreed to pay a total of $160 million and Bank of America previously consented to $137.3 million.