FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT DIRECTS FEDERAL PROSECUTORS TO IMPLEMENT
THE CORPORATE FRAUD AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2002
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Attorney General John Ashcroft today issued a directive to the 94 U.S. Attorney's offices and all 56 FBI Field Office ordering immediate implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Corporate Fraud and Accountability Act of 2002 to combat corporate fraud.
Yesterday, President Bush signed the Act into law, giving federal prosecutors the ability to seek new criminal penalties for securities fraud, attempts to commit mail, wire, bank and health care fraud, certifying false financial statements, document destruction or tampering, and retaliating against whistleblowers.
"Today I directed our nation's federal prosecutors and investigators to utilize all of these new tools as they fight corporate crime," Ashcroft said. "The Justice Department will do everything it can to protect the hard-earned savings and investments of the millions of Americans who have planned for their future, saved for their children's educations, and prepared for their retirement."
In conjunction with the Attorney General's directive, the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division issued a set of field guidances to prosecutors and investigators which outline the new tools and penalties in the Act, its retroactive or prospective applications, as well as the information sharing and coordination measures with other federal regulatory agencies.
The Attorney General also wrote to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, directing them to review, and as appropriate, amend the guidelines related to obstruction of justice, criminal fraud, accounting and securities fraud, as well as the new "white collar" provisions in the Act related to document destruction or tampering. The Commission is to determine whether the penalties and enhancements in the Act are sufficient to deter, prevent and punish financial crime as well as to add penalty enhancements for officers or directors of publicly traded companies who engage in such offenses. The Commission will have 180 days to review and amend the guidelines.
"These are the most significant and far reaching measures to reform corporate misconduct in decades," Ashcroft said. "We will continue to investigate and prosecute vigorously corporate fraud — and we will bring to justice those who have abused the trust of investors and employees."