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Things That Caught My Eye In The DOJ’s Evaluation Of Corporate Compliance Programs Guidance Document

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This prior post went in-depth into the DOJ’s recently released “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” (ECCP) guidance document. This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues in the ECCP that caught my eye

For starters, there is nothing “wrong” with the ECCP per se. In fact, it is a nicely written and organized document. Substantively however, the ECCP uses the word “effective” 49 times, but there is no legal requirement that business organizations have “effective” compliance programs.

If a business organization wants to exceed the statutory standards set forth in the FCPA’s internal controls provisions (“controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances” that certain objective are met) that is great! However, the legal and policy concern with the ECCP is that in an official U.S. government document the DOJ says it is going to base decisions about prosecutions and form of resolutions, monetary penalties, and compliance obligations in corporate criminal resolutions on specific factors, most of which, are not even found in any law passed by Congress.

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DOJ Releases “The Evaluation Of Corporate Compliance Programs” Guidance Document

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Earlier this week, the DOJ Criminal Division released this guidance document titled “The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” (ECCP).

The latest version of the guidance document which “sets forth topics that the Criminal Division has frequently found relevant in evaluating a corporate compliance” is likely to generate a substantial amount of coverage. However, there is little new substantive information in the document compared to the DOJ’s February 2017 release of its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (see here for the prior post) and in fact there was little new information in the February 2017 document as it cited to sources long in the public domain). Indeed, the ECCP contains a spot-on footnote which states that many of the topics discussed appear in other resources long in the public domain.

While the ECCP is not Foreign Corrupt Practices Act specific, it is FCPA relevant. Nevertheless, the policy issue raised with the ECCP (as well as other forms of DOJ guidance) is what should happen if a business organization acts consistent with the factors, but an employee nevertheless exposes the entity to legal liability. Consistent with the FCPA-like laws of many peer countries, this should be relevant as a matter of law and not merely in the opaque, inconsistent, and unpredictable world of DOJ decision making. (See here).

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FCPA Flash Podcast – A Conversation With Former DOJ Fraud Section Chief Sandra Moser

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The FCPA Flash podcast provides in an audio format the same fresh, candid, and informed commentary about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related topics as readers have come to expect from written posts on FCPA Professor.

This FCPA Flash podcast episode is a conversation with Sandra Moser (Quinn Emanuel).  Moser is the former chief of the DOJ’s Fraud Section which has exclusive criminal enforcement authority of the FCPA. During the podcast, Moser discusses: (i) things that corporate counsel or FCPA practitioners fail to realize or understand about the DOJ’s FCPA enforcement program; (ii) the DOJ’s so-called “no piling on” policy and whether the time has come for the DOJ simply to back off of FCPA enforcement actions against foreign companies from OECD Convention countries; (iii) whether the FCPA has been successful in achieving its objectives; and (iv) where the FCPA is headed and predictions for what corporate counsel, FCPA practitioners, and government enforcement officials will be talking about in 10 years.

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The Department Of Justice Is Lost

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Department of Justice officials have recognized “the need for better defined ‘rules of the road’ in corporate enforcement” meaning “settled and predictable guideposts by which prosecutors exercise their discretion – guideposts that we hope provide greater clarity and clearer expectations to the private sector, and allow companies to conform their conduct accordingly.” (See here).

Nice rhetoric, but as highlighted in this post, as an organization the DOJ is lost when it comes to resolving alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations by business organizations.

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