New Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Criminal Chief Kenneth Polite was recently interviewed about his efforts to reinvigorate federal white-collar crime prosecutions. DOJ’s new priorities will include investigations of corporate malfeasance, cybercrime, and global corruption, among other offenses.
Mr. Polite emphasized that DOJ investigations will include a review by the Department’s Corporate Enforcement, Compliance and Policy Unit regarding the quality, maturity, and independence of corporate compliance programs. He reiterated the critical nature of such programs, noting that it is insufficient for a business to have a compliance plan in name only.
Is your compliance plan regularly evaluated, properly funded, and independent of influence by executives or the Board? Are your company’s compliance personnel proactive and empowered to effectively do their jobs? DOJ investigators will consider these factors during investigations to determine whether the company will get credit for appropriate compliance measures. If not, the company will be subject to additional punishment, such as a monitoring program requiring direct oversight by federal government personnel of the company’s future compliance efforts.
It is paramount for a business to be able to demonstrate that it has fully implemented a robust compliance program, in order to properly defend a federal investigation—and even more importantly—to prevent such an investigation from progressing past an initial phase.