Corporate misconduct allegations often result in investigations by multiple agencies, including foreign, federal, state, and local authorities. Without proper coordination, companies risk being hit with duplicative penalties for the same misconduct. Duplicative corporate penalties can be avoided, but coordinating a corporate resolution with multiple authorities is hard to navigate.
Within the United States, federal prosecutors often have overlapping jurisdiction with other federal criminal and civil prosecutors, federal and state regulators, and local prosecutors. In international investigations, federal prosecutors also have to cooperate with foreign authorities with overlapping jurisdiction. All of these players can have a legitimate interest in protecting the public from economic crimes. Regulatory competition, however, often leads government authorities to want to take the lead over other authorities. Other times, government authorities jump from the sidelines onto the field of play when a corporate resolution is near and refuse to leave the field without a share of the penalties. A coordinated resolution is difficult to achieve in either case. In the end, the overlapping jurisdiction and regulatory competition can either lead to (1) each authority “piling on” their share of penalties or (2) a coordinated resolution that identifies the collective harm caused by the company’s misconduct, the appropriate penalties for that harm, and the fair allocation of the penalties among the interested government players. Continue reading →
On April 18, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Lagos v. United States. On appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Lagos presents the important issue of whether a corporate victim’s professional costs—such as investigatory and legal expenses—incurred as a result of a criminal defendant’s offense conduct must be reimbursed under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (“MVRA”).
The issue has been subject to a recurring circuit split and Lagos now offers the Supreme Court an opportunity to resolve the conflict. Moreover, as noted by the certiorari petition, the Court’s decision will necessarily have implications “every time corporations engage in internal investigations or audits at the suspicion of wrongdoing.”Continue reading →
On March 23, 2018, Congress passed the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (the CLOUD Act), amending key aspects of U.S. surveillance law and providing a framework for cross-border data access for law enforcement purposes. The Act addresses two problems that have been the subject of heated debate for the past five years. First, by amending the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701 et seq. (SCA), the CLOUD Act clarifies that American law enforcement authorities can compel providers of electronic communication services — such as major email service providers and social media networks — to produce data stored outside the United States. Second, the Act establishes new rules facilitating foreign law enforcement access to data stored inside the United States. In short, this new legislation impacts any provider that may receive either U.S. or foreign orders to produce data in furtherance of criminal investigations. Continue reading →
On March 5, 2018, French prosecutors published two Judicial Conventions of Public Interest (“CJIPs” or “French DPAs”) approved by the President of the High Court of Nanterre on February 23. The CJIPs, entered into between prosecutors and two sub-contractors to state-owned utility EDF, SAS Kaefer Wanner (“KW”) and SAS SET Environnement (“SET”), allege that these companies had ceded to solicitations to pay bribes to an EDF procurement manager, and that this behaviour amounted to corruption by them of an individual charged with a public service. KW and SET admitted these facts and their legal qualification, and agreed to pay financial penalties of €2,710,000 and €800,000 respectively and compensation to EDF of €30,000 each. In addition, they agreed to submit to monitoring by the French Anti-corruption Agency (“AFA”) for, respectively, 18 and 24 months.
The KW and SET CJIPs are the first to be concluded in respect of corruption offences. Helpfully, they provide (1) detail on the financial incentive of entering into a French DPA for companies with potential exposure for corruption-related offences in France, (2) clarification that co-operation and remediation can significantly reduce the financial penalty, as well as (3) the first examples of monitorships to be supervised by the AFA. However, the crucial question of how a company can qualify for a French DPA remains largely unanswered. Continue reading →
Late last week, the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division announced at an ABA white-collar conference that it has begun using the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy as “nonbinding guidance” in other areas of white-collar enforcement beyond the FCPA. As a result, absent aggravating factors, DOJ may more frequently decline to prosecute companies that promptly self-disclose misconduct, fully cooperate with DOJ’s investigation, remediate in a complete and timely fashion, and disgorge any ill-gotten gains. As a first example of this approach, the officials pointed to DOJ’s recent decision to decline charges against Barclays PLC, after the bank agreed to pay back $12.9 million in wrongful profits, following individual charges arising out of a foreign exchange front-running scheme. Continue reading →
Following the decisions in The RBS Rights Issue Litigationand Serious Fraud Office v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Limited(“ENRC”), it was thought that the prospect of claiming legal professional privilege in English proceedings over interview memoranda generated during internal investigations was slim (see our client alert on those two cases here). However, a recent decision of the English High Court in Bilta (UK) Limited and Others v (1) Royal Bank of Scotland Plc (2) Mercuria Energy Europe Trading Limited(“Bilta”) has refused the disclosure of interview memoranda on the basis of litigation privilege, providing a glimmer of hope for corporates who seek to protect such documents from disclosure. Continue reading →
In a significant development for companies relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), in late November the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (the Enforcement Policy).
The Enforcement Policy is designed to encourage companies to voluntarily disclose misconduct by providing greater transparency concerning the amount of credit the DOJ will give to companies that self-report, fully cooperate and appropriately remediate misconduct. Notably, in announcing the Enforcement Policy, the DOJ highlighted the continued critical role that anti-corruption compliance programs play in its evaluation of eligibility under the Enforcement Policy. Continue reading →
In our memo last year, we acknowledged that it was close to impossible to predict the likely impact that the newly elected Trump administration would have on white-collar and regulatory enforcement. (White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement: What to Expect in 2017) Instead, we set out a list of initiatives we urged the new administration to consider, including clarifying standards for when cooperation credit would be given, reducing the use of monitors, and giving greater weight to a company’s pre-existing compliance program when exercising prosecutorial discretion, among other suggestions. While the DOJ under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has, for example, taken some steps toward clarifying the applicable standards for cooperation and increasing incentives to disclose misconduct in the FCPA area, few other policy choices or shifts in approach have been articulated or implemented. Continue reading →
In a decision that makes clear the importance for counsel conducting internal investigations to think carefully about the consequences of providing oral summaries of witness interviews to government investigators, a federal Magistrate Judge recently held that a law firm waived work product protection for its interview memoranda when counsel provided oral downloads of those interviews to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Noting that “very few decisions are consequence free events,” the Court held that there was “little to no substantive distinction” for purposes of work product waiver between providing the actual notes and memoranda and reading or orally summarizing the notes. The Court, however, rejected the notion that a waiver of work product protection extends to information the law firm shared with its client’s accounting firm, holding that the accounting firm and the company shared a “common interest.” Continue reading →
From recent experience in cross-border investigations (especially the Libor investigation in the United States and the United Kingdom), it has become apparent that many of our colleagues overseas in private practice are bewildered by the propensity of American white collar defense lawyers to rush into the Government to disgorge the product of their internal investigations when representing companies. Self-reporting in the United States is now a prerequisite to obtaining full cooperation credit and the mitigation of punishment that goes along with it. See, for example, the recent pronouncements about cooperation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and by James McDonald, Director of Enforcement at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
European law enforcement is not premised on the notion that the only clear way to obtain leniency for a business organization is to cooperate, or, indeed, to turn the company in. For many private lawyers in other countries the imperative to cooperate simply does not compute. Continue reading →