“[H]olding accountable the people who committed the wrongdoing is essential if we are truly going to deter corporate misdeeds, have a real impact on corporate culture and ensure that the public has confidence in our justice system. We cannot have a different system of justice – or the perception of a different system of justice – for corporate executives than we do for everyone else.”
Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates
Remarks at the New York City Bar Association White Collar Crime Conference
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTABILITY POLICY
Fighting corporate fraud and other misconduct is a top priority of the Department of Justice. Our nation's economy depends on effective enforcement of the civil and criminal laws that protect our financial system and, by extension, all our citizens. These are principles that the Department lives and breathes- as evidenced by the many attorneys, agents, and support staff who have worked tirelessly on corporate investigations.
One of the most effective ways to combat corporate misconduct is by seeking accountability from the individuals who perpetrated the wrongdoing. Such accountability is important for several reasons: it deters future illegal activity; it incentivizes changes in corporate behavior; it ensures that the proper parties are held responsible for their actions; and it promotes the public's confidence in our justice system.
On September 9, 2015, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates issued a memorandum entitled, “Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing” to guide department attorneys when handling corporate matters. The memo outlined six significant steps in Department policy in order to ensure that corporate investigations are handled consistently across the department:
- To be eligible for any cooperation credit, corporations must provide the Department all relevant facts about individuals involved in corporate misconduct;
- Both criminal and civil corporate investigations should focus on individuals from the inception of the investigation;
- Criminal and civil attorneys handling corporate investigations should be in routine communication with one another;
- Absent extraordinary circumstances, no corporate resolution should provide protection from criminal or civil liability for any individuals;
- Corporate cases should not be resolved without a clear plan to resolve related individual cases; and
- Civil attorneys should evaluate whether to bring suit against an individual based on considerations beyond that individual’s ability to pay.
POLICY DOCUMENTS & GUIDANCE
Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing, Memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, September 9, 2015 (PDF)
United States Attorney’s Manual 9-28.000, Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations, which codifies the principles of the Individual Accountability memo