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Log In / Register | Oct 23, 2017

AG Sessions Stresses DOJ To Hold Individuals Accountable for Corporate Misconduct

Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month emphasized the Department of Justice’s commitment to holding individuals accountable for corporate misconduct and self-reporting by culpable corporations and organizations. The AG noted that to prosecute responsible individuals, the DOJ “will work closely with our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to bring these persons to justice.”

DLA Piper reported this latest development in a publication from its compliance and governance practice division last week. It stated that AG Sessions stressed the importance of building strong cultures of compliance and pledged that the DOJ will continue to reward effective compliance programs. It told that senior DOJ officials recently touted the Trump’s Administration’s “continuing commitment to enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and rewarding effective compliance programs.”

The bulletin further explained, “The Attorney General's remarks appear to be an endorsement of the Obama-era policy set forth in the September 2015 memorandum from then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, which sought to more effectively combat corporate misconduct by seeking to hold more individuals accountable. That memorandum required, among other things, that a company must turn over all relevant facts regarding individuals involved in corporate misconduct before receiving cooperation credit and that prosecutors should not, absent extraordinary circumstances, enter into resolutions with corporate defendants that provide protection for potentially culpable individuals.”

When making charging determinations, the Justice Department “will continue to assess the strength of a company’s compliance program, the extent of the company’s cooperation, whether it self-discloses and whether the company takes appropriate remediation steps.” Sessions noted that for years, the DOJ has directed the government’s prosecutors to consider those factors when making charging decisions.

The DLA Piper attorneys report that AG Sessions’ speech came on the heels of comments by Pablo Quinones, Chief of the DOJ’s Strategy, Policy and Training Unit at the Anti-Corruption, Export Controls & Sanctions (ACES) Compliance Summit. He discussed the roles of Compliance Counsel expert Hui Chen and federal criminal prosecutors in assessing compliance programs and enforcement actions. At the April 18 summit, Quinones, responding to questions, stated that while the Criminal Division valued Hui Chen’s expertise, when it comes to charging, “the ultimate decision is made by prosecutors.”

The law firm bulletin offers key takeaways from these latest developments for corporations, franchised and non-franchised, and their legal counsel. One stresses, “In order to best position themselves, companies need to take allegations of fraud and corruption seriously, vigorously investigate them when they arise, and take proactive steps to remediate any problems. This is so whether or not a company makes the difficult decision to self-report.”


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About Janet Sparks

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Janet Sparks is the former publisher of the Continental Franchise Review, an industry newsletter that covered the franchise community for over 30 years. She has also been a columnist for a leading franchise magazine for the past 13 years. Today she is an independent journalist who engages in investigative reporting, tackling complex issues that impact the franchise industry.

Janet can be reached at jsparks@bluemaumau.org or at 303-799-7398.