U.S. DOJ Clarifies Policies for Holding Individuals Accountable for Corporate Wrongdoing: Reflects DOJ Practice in Criminal Cases; Grants More Discretion in Civil Cases

On November 29, 2018, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced changes to the U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) policies concerning individual accountability in corporate enforcement cases. These changes reflect the culmination of a review process initiated last year to consider input from DOJ attorneys, law enforcement agents, and the private sector to improve the DOJ’s policies.

With respect to criminal cases, companies now only need to provide the DOJ with information about individuals who were “substantially” involved in the alleged misconduct to be eligible for cooperation credit, rather than all such employees, regardless of their level of involvement.

With respect to civil cases, Rosenstein announced a number of policy changes that give enforcement attorneys more discretion. Civil enforcement attorneys may now: (1) grant companies partial cooperation credit if they provide “meaningful assistance” to the DOJ, even if they do not provide information related to lower-level employees; (2) release individuals from civil liability when resolving civil corporate cases, if warranted; and (3) consider an individual’s ability to pay as a determinative factor in evaluating whether to bring civil claims against him or her. 

Read the full client alert here.