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Episode 249 — DOJ Issues New Corporate Enforcement Policy

The Biden Administration promised a new, aggressive approach to corporate crime. Well, the Justice Department just delivered a new, comprehensive policy that raises a number of issues, some of which are likely to be controversial. The new policy incorporates reforms announced last October that largely centered on prior corporate criminal and civil records; appointment of independent compliance monitors and expanding review of responsible persons in an internal investigation.

The Justice Department’s new Corporate Enforcement Policy (“CEP”), however, expands on earlier policy changes but includes some new and far-reaching reforms that are intended to increase individual accountability and promote corporate culture through financial incentives and deterrence policies. This last idea is a significant expansion of DOJ’s CEP and is sure to reverberate through the business and compliance community. Chief compliance officers face a new requirement for their companies — creating an effective system of carrots and sticks to punish misconduct and increase rewards for ethical behavior.

DOJ’s new CEP also lays the groundwork for further consideration of corporate responsibility for preserving electronic messaging, ephemeral services and other electronic data. DOJ’s discussion in this area reflects DOJ’s frustration with corporate internal investigation that omits access to electronic data, especially in those situations where employees use personal devices for business-related communications.

The revised CEP provides guidance to prosecutors and the business community to ensure individual and corporate accountability through the evaluation of various factors, including: (1) Corporate History of Misconduct; (2) Self-Disclosure and Cooperation; (3) the Strength of a Company’s Compliance Program; (4) the Use and Monitoring of Corporate Monitors (including their selection and scope of a monitor’s work).

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