US Department Of Justice Changes Policy On Corporate Cooperation

Author:Shearman & Sterling LLP
Profession:Shearman & Sterling LLP

The DOJ recently made a significant change to its policy regarding corporate cooperation. Since 2015, that policy has been governed by a memo titled "Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing" — popularly known as the "Yates Memo" — which stated that "[t]o be eligible for any cooperation credit, corporations must provide to the Department all relevant facts about the individuals involved in corporate misconduct." This policy was incorporated into the United States Attorney's Manual, which guides DOJ investigations.

On 29 November 2018, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced revisions to the Yates Memo policy. Under the revised policy, companies are only required to identify all individuals who were substantially involved in a potential crime in order to receive cooperation credit in criminal investigations. This is a significant change to the Yates Memo policy, which required companies to provide information on all individuals who were involved in potential misconduct, no matter how insubstantial their role.

In explaining the DOJ's policy shift, Mr. Rosenstein indicated a desire to focus on individuals who play "significant roles in setting a company on a course of criminal conduct" and that the DOJ wants to "know who authorized the misconduct, and what they knew about it." Mr. Rosenstein acknowledged that it is not practical to require a company to identify every employee who played any role in alleged illegal schemes that encompass otherwise routine activities of numerous employees, particularly when the government and company want to resolve the matter, but disagree over the scope of misconduct.

Under the revised Yates...

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