DOJ Attempts to Weed Out Crime with 75% Reduction in Fines

Market News: DOJ Offers 75% Reduction in Fines to Companies that Admit Crime.
Market News: DOJ Offers 75% Reduction in Fines to Companies that Admit Crime.

[Bloomberg] The Justice Department will recommend as much as a 75% reduction in fines for companies that voluntarily report wrongdoing to the government and fully cooperate with investigations.

Even companies that don’t voluntarily disclose wrongdoing but still fully cooperate with investigations could still get a 50% reduction off the low end of the guidelines for fines, the head of the department’s criminal division said Tuesday.

“The policy is sending an undeniable message: come forward, cooperate, and remediate,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center.

Polite made it clear that cooperators seeking declination will be held to a higher standard than your average or even gold-standard cooperator — the cooperation must be “truly extraordinary.” 

The Justice Department will distinguish extraordinary cooperation by assessing the immediacy, consistency, degree, and impact of the cooperation.

Prosecutors will expect companies to cooperate immediately, consistently tell the truth, and hand over evidence that the DOJ otherwise would not be likely to obtain, such as quick access to electronic device images, audio/video recordings, trial testimony, and other kinds of cooperation that “produces results.”

The policy also covers corporations conducting business internationally, as the changes will apply to all corporate matters handled by the Criminal Division, including all Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases nationwide.

Notably, the new policy is the third in a trilogy of Department of Justice memoranda addressing the prosecution of corporate misconduct and setting forth revised policies concerning the effect of cooperation by companies that have engaged in wrongdoing.

Years of Ongoing Investigations

The new policy was announced to further Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco’s October 2021 memorandum directing the creation of a Corporate Crime Advisory Group within the Department to recommend guidance concerning, in part, the nature of a company’s dealings with the government required to receive cooperation credit in resolving company misconduct, and to consider revisions and reforms to the Department’s approach to corporate crime prosecution.

The new policy also follows less than five months after the issuance of a memorandum further clarifying the Department of Justice’s policy against seeking a guilty plea where a corporation has voluntarily self-disclosed, fully cooperated, and timely and properly remediated the conduct at issue in the absence of aggravating factors and directing all department components, including the 93 U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, to review its policies on corporate voluntary self-disclosure and ensure it has a publicly available written policy.

At the same time, the September 2022 memorandum emphasized DOJ’s commitment to “strong corporate criminal enforcement.”

Polite likely had these pronouncements in mind as he concluded his speech. He entreated corporations to “come forward, cooperate, and remediate,” and to join the Department of Justice as allies in the fight against crime.12 But he also warned: “Failing to take these steps, a company runs the risk of increasing its criminal exposure and monetary penalties.”

Related Article: Citadel Under Investigation by DOJ

Source(s): Bloomberg.

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