Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates sent out a memorandum to all U.S. Attorneys last September issuing guidelines for how to investigate cases against corporate entities. Corporations oftentimes are able to evade being held accountable for crimes because it can be challenging to find an individual to try.
However, the contents of the memo might encourage corporations to behave in a more guarded manner during investigations. This is because it requires attorneys to build cases against individuals in corporations as soon as an investigation is opened rather than after a great deal of information has been gathered. The idea is that lower-level employees should provide the government with information about higher ups who make decisions to violate laws. This means a corporation’s internal investigation might be compromised, as people will be less likely to bring up wrongdoing for fear of being blamed or prosecuted. It can also create issues of infighting within corporate employees.
In an article posted on businessreport.com, the Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm‘s own Don Cazayoux explains how this shift in policy may make it more challenging to receive cooperation from corporations who are facing criminal charges. He says that defining “full cooperation” in these investigations can already be difficult. Generally, corporations want to provide just enough information to say they’ve cooperated with an investigation, but they are likely to hold back more damaging facts about their actions.
Ideally, these guidelines will help deter corporate wrongdoing. However, their effect remains to be seen.