AG MEMO : CoordinatE Parallel Criminal, Civil, & Administraative

AG Letter MastHead

July 28, 1997

     MEMORANDUM FOR ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS                     ALL ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS                     ALL LITIGATING DIVISIONS                     ALL TRIAL ATTORNEYS  

FROM: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

SUBJECT: Coordination of Parallel Criminal, Civil, and Administrative Proceedings

The key to the Department's federal white-collar crime enforcement effort is to use the Government's resources as efficiently and effectively as possible in order to punish offenders, recover damages, and prevent future misconduct. In recent years, we have pursued greater numbers of complex cases, in which the Government has been required to employ the full range of criminal, civil and administrative remedies and sanctions. The challenge requires greater cooperation, communication and teamwork between the criminal and civil prosecutors who are often conducting parallel investigations of the same offenders and matters. Although policies and procedures on parallel proceedings have been adopted by many of the United States Attorneys' offices, and Department components, I am issuing the following policy statement to clarify the Department's priorities and responsibilities in this new litigative environment.

We have experienced significant change in the way the Government fights white-collar crime. We have also experienced enormous growth of affirmative civil enforcement (ACE), and with additional ACE resources, annual recoveries have increased by hundreds of millions of dollars. Enforcement priorities encompass not only government procurement and health care fraud, but also consumer protection, the environment, tax, and securities fraud, which implicate a variety of civil, criminal, and regulatory remedies.

In order to maximize the efficient use of resources, it is essential that our attorneys consider whether there are investigative steps common to civil and criminal prosecutions, and to agency administrative actions, and that they discuss all significant issues that might have a bearing on the matter as a whole with their colleagues. When appropriate, criminal, civil, and administrative attorneys should coordinate an investigative strategy that includes prompt decisions on the merits of criminal and civil matters; sensitivity to grand jury secrecy, tax disclosure limitations and civil statutes of limitation; early computation and recovery of the full measure of the Government's losses; prevention of the dissipation of assets; global settlements; proper use of discovery; and compliance with the Double Jeopardy Clause. By bringing additional expertise to our efforts, expanding our arsenal of remedies, increasing program integrity and deterring future violations, we represent the full range of the Government's interests.

Accordingly, every United States Attorney's office and each Department Litigating Division should have a system for coordinating the criminal, civil and administrative aspects of all white-collar crime matters within the office. The system should contain management procedures to address issues of parallel proceedings including:
  • timely assessment of the civil and administrative potential in all criminal case referrals, indictments, and declinations;

  • timely assessment of the criminal potential in all civil case referrals and complaints;

  • effective and timely communication with cognizant agency officials, including suspension and debarment authorities, to enable agencies to pursue available remedies;

  • early and regular communication between civil and criminal attorneys regarding qui tam and other civil referrals, especially when the civil case is developing ahead of the criminal prosecution; and

  • coordination, when appropriate, with state and local authorities.

Consistent with our responsibility to make our enforcement efforts more efficient and effective, prosecutors should consult with the government attorneys on the civil side and appropriate agency officials regarding the investigative strategies to be used in their cases. With proper safeguards, evidence can be obtained without the grand jury by administrative subpoenas, search warrants and other means. Evidence can then be shared among the various personnel responsible for the matter. This information-sharing can provide a mechanism through which the Government can achieve a comprehensive settlement of all of the Government's various interests.

I welcome the participation of the various law enforcement agencies in this effort. I encourage those agencies and offices with investigatory responsibilities to recognize, through workplans and credit in the review process, accomplishments in the civil and administrative areas that arise from the work of their agents. I also encourage the United States Attorneys, Litigating Divisions and administrative agencies to similarly recognize those contributions.

To help offices in overcoming impediments to coordination that may arise from a lack of resources, experience or expertise, I also direct that appropriate staff in each office receive comprehensive training regarding parallel proceedings utilizing a course of instruction and training materials to be developed by the Council on White-Collar Crime and the Office of Legal Education.


Updated page October 30 , 1997
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