In this decision (No. 11-1274.) , issued February 27, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Commission was subject to the general statute of limitations (5 years) for bringing civil actions for alleged fraud violations of federal statutes. The Court rejected the Commission's argument that there should be a delayed limitation where the Commission did not discover the fraud until after the normal limitations period has run.
While the fraud exception to limitations may be applicable to a private plaintiff, who is ordinarily not on the lookout for violations, the Commission as a government agency is specifically charged with discovering violations and thus no compelling fairness consideration exists which calls for giving the Commission extra time. Or so concluded the Court.
The Gabelli decision on its facts applies only to the Commission. However, the principle articulated in the case would seem to have equal applicability to other government entities such as the EPA. One can, in any event, certainly expect environmental civil-case defendants from now on so to argue.