The U.S. Department of Justice favors its cooperation program for foreign bribery cases enough that it wants to apply it to other white-collar criminal matters.
In a March 1 speech at the American Bar Association National Institute on White Collar Crime, DOJ Criminal Division Head John Cronan said the department will expand its program that allows companies some leniency when they self-disclose certain violations. Previously, the DOJ had piloted, and then made permanent, a regime under which it would give corporations credit when they come forward with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. But the department is now willing to offer self-disclosure credit for criminal violations besides those under the FCPA.
The announcement puts another option on the table for corporations that suspect wrongdoing in their midst but want to minimize the penalties they could face from the federal government. But the decision to come forward with potential corporate crimes remains a complicated one, and the DOJ’s standards can be difficult to meet, say white-collar defense attorneys.
The DOJ currently offers benefits to companies that have “voluntarily self-disclosed misconduct in an FCPA matter, fully cooperated, and timely and appropriately remediated, all in accordance with [certain] standards,” according to its FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy. The department might decline to prosecute the self-reporting company depending on “the seriousness of the offense or the nature of the offender.” In order to qualify for leniency, the company must also pay all disgorgement, forfeiture, and restitution from the wrongdoing.