Small Business Securities Bulletin: Pending Amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines – Why Now is a Good Time to Review Your Corporate Compliance and Ethics Program

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The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently voted to amend the federal Sentencing Guidelines with respect to corporate compliance and ethics programs. These amendments will be effective on November 1, unless Congress takes action to block them, which is unlikely. The Sentencing Guidelines allow for mitigation of the sentence imposed on a company that has been convicted of a crime if the company can show that, at the time the crime was committed, it had in place an effective compliance

and ethics program as set forth in the Guidelines. However, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies often consider Sentencing Guidelines criteria in determining whether to institute regulatory proceedings, and the elements of an effective compliance program under the Sentencing Guidelines generally work their way into the “best practices” for corporate compliance and ethics programs generally. Penny Somer-Greif of Ober|Kaler discusses the importance of having these programs in place in light of the proposed amendments.

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