With Congress so worried about the national budget these days, maybe it should take fiscal tips from the U.S. Department of Justice. Federal enforcers obtained a whopping $9 billion in corporate settlements in 2012—a record amount that surpassed the previous high set in 2006 by nearly $3 billion.

“I know something about big settlements,” said attorney F. Joseph Warin, who has negotiated deals as both a one-time federal prosecutor as well as a private practitioner representing companies. “But when you look at this aggregation of numbers, it’s extraordinary—hundreds of millions of dollars in a whole range of areas.”

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