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Executives May Be Held Responsible for Corporate Crimes

March 17, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

A recent memo has recently been issued from the office of Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates. The memo issued policy changes for Ohio and the rest of the country that will essentially place the focus of criminal investigations relating to corporate fraud on executives rather than on the corporations themselves.

The memo states that civil and criminal investigators should investigate individual employees when their investigation begins and that companies should only obtain credit for cooperating if they identify the employees responsible and provide all applicable evidence. The memo also reiterated that the top priority of the U.S. Department of Justice was to fight corporate fraud and that this change would give the government the ability to hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions.

The New York Times states that the memo appears to be a reaction to criticism over the lack of action taken by the DOJ. When the market crashed in 2008, many Americans voiced their belief that the DOJ needed to hold certain people accountable. Many felt that justice was not adequately served, since no top Wall Street executive saw the inside of a prison.

Previously, to establish the terms of a settlement, corporations would simply hire lawyers to carry out investigations internally and then submit their findings to the Justice Department. Now, the corporation will also need to send names to the investigators, and those parties will need to have legal representation. Furthermore, companies cannot pick and choose what evidence to turn over to the DOJ.

It may take time before this policy is enacted, and the lengthy process of investigating white collar crimes may lead to further delay. The upcoming elections might contribute to additional complications, since there may be a change to the Attorney General depending on who becomes president and what changes he or she implements.

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