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Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco Delivers Remarks on Corporate Criminal Enforcement

Last Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco made remarks regarding corporate criminal enforcement.  Deputy Attorney General Monaco set forth five key priorities: (i) individual accountability; (ii) consideration of previous misconduct; (iii) self-disclosures by companies accused of misconduct; (iv) compliance monitors; and (v) compensation/incentive plans that encourage a healthy corporate culture and avoid risky behavior.  In my view, this is not a substantial departure from the Department’s current practice.  Deputy Attorney General Monaco’s articulation of these priorities, however, codifies practices that were already occurring in both Civil and Criminal matters. 

Over the last few days, I have noticed a bevy of posts and client alerts related to this topic so I won’t attempt to restate many of the points already shared by fellow practitioners in this space. But, in my view, there are a few additional points worth noting.

First, individual accountability has always been a focus of the Department, specifically in the criminal context. Cases that are difficult to prove at a corporate level or would not make sense to bring for prudential reasons would be better addressed in an individual action.  Second, as I noted in my post last week, self-disclosure and meaningful cooperation by a company will generally result in a better outcome for a company that is aware of the misconduct and is being investigated by DOJ.  Third, having investigated a wide range of companies, from financial institutions to healthcare companies, I can say that the way in which companies incentivize their employees necessarily impacts conduct. 

Incentive/compensation plans reflect the priorities of the organization and, despite the language included in public-facing policies and procedures, those plans communicate to employees what the company values. That said, companies rarely have incentive plans that include specific language encouraging misconduct. Instead, you often find misconduct in pressure cooker environments, where the company’s culture is to achieve results by any means necessary. As a former DOJ Trial Attorney, such a culture would spark red flags.   

Finally, I am interested to see how Criminal’s corporate enforcement priorities will work in conjunction with the Civil Division. Hopefully, increased disclosure and cooperation by companies will result in more coordination between the Civil and Criminal Divisions.

A link to Deputy Attorney General Monaco’s statements is provided below.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco Delivers Remarks on Corporate Criminal Enforcement

  • Denise M. Barnes
    Partner

    Denise Barnes is a former U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Trial Attorney who focuses her practice on compliance, white collar and regulatory investigations, and complex commercial litigation.  She represents clients in ...

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