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Mum’s The Word From The DOJ As To The Compliance Counsel Position

In November 2015, the DOJ announced [1] that it had retained “Hui Chen as a full-time compliance expert” and that  “among her duties as a consulting expert, Chen will provide expert guidance to Fraud Section prosecutors as they consider the enumerated factors in the United States Attorneys’ Manual concerning the prosecution of business entities, including the existence and effectiveness of any compliance program that a company had in place at the time of the conduct giving rise to the prospect of criminal charges, and whether the corporation has taken meaningful remedial action, such as the implementation of new compliance measures to detect and prevent future wrongdoing.”

After drawing much attention to herself on social media (see here [1] for the prior post), including from accounts that identified herself as “Compliance Counsel Expert at U.S. Department of Justice,” Chen announced [2] that she left the DOJ in June 2017 because in her words “I want to help elect candidates who stand for [values she shares], and [she] cannot do that while under contract with the Criminal Division due to Hatch Act restrictions.”

As highlighted in this post [3], certain media outlets pounced on the non-story of Chen leaving her contract position at the DOJ with often over-the-top and misleading coverage.

On February 28th, I e-mailed the DOJ press release:

“As was widely reported, in June 2017 Hui Chen left her full-time compliance expert position at the DOJ. Has the DOJ hired or engaged another person to assume this position? If not, is anyone at the DOJ providing (as stated in the DOJ’s release when Chen began her position) ” expert guidance to Fraud Section prosecutors as they consider the enumerated factors in the United States Attorneys’ Manual concerning the prosecution of business entities, including the existence and effectiveness of any compliance program that a company had in place at the time of the conduct giving rise to the prospect of criminal charges, and whether the corporation has taken meaningful remedial action, such as the implementation of new compliance measures to detect and prevent future wrongdoing.”?”

I received the below answer:

“We decline to comment on personnel matters at this time.  There is nothing new to report. Thank you.”

According to a knowledgeable source, the DOJ Fraud Section has not hired or engaged a replacement since Hui Chen left the DOJ in June 2017.

This is interesting.

If the position is that important why has it remained vacant for the last nine months?

Or was the position even important to begin with or perhaps just optics – a public relations move – as I called it in this August [4] 2015 post long before Chen was identified with the position.

What makes Chen’s time at the DOJ even more interesting are the publicly reported details of her contract.  According to this Global Investigations Review report [5] based on documents received through the FOIA process, the DOJ approved $711,800 to spend on Hui Chen’s former compliance consultant position over two years. According to the report, Chen’s salary at the DOJ was greater than the DOJ criminal division chief, the deputy attorney general and the attorney general.

[6]