The Justice Department will recommend as much as a 75% reduction in fines for companies that voluntarily report wrongdoing to the government and fully cooperate with investigations.
Even companies that don’t voluntarily disclose wrongdoing but still fully cooperate with investigations could still get a 50% reduction off the low end of the guidelines for fines, the head of the department’s criminal division said Tuesday.
“The policy is sending an undeniable message: come forward, cooperate, and remediate,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center. “We are going to be closely examining how companies discipline bad actors and reward the good ones.”
The announcement builds on changes to the department’s corporate enforcement policy being put into place and previously announced by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
The discounts apply to companies that face fines for misconduct that include aggravating factors, Polite said. In other cases, companies could avoid any fines when they voluntarily disclose misconduct, cooperate with investigations and fully prevent the problems from recurring.
“These changes offer companies new, significant and concrete incentives to self-disclose misconduct,” Polite said. “And even in situations where companies do not self-disclose, the revisions to the policy provide incentives for companies to go far above and beyond the bare minimum when they cooperate with our investigations.”
Under the new policy, prosecutors also might decline to bring charges against companies over crimes with aggravating factors if those companies can demonstrate they meet certain requirements, Polite said. Those include companies that make voluntary disclosures immediately upon learning of alleged wrongdoing, have effective compliance program already in place and provide exceptional cooperation and remediation.
“Failing to take these steps, a company runs the risk of increasing its criminal exposure and monetary penalties,” Polite warned. “Our job is not just to prosecute crime, but to deter and prevent criminal conduct.”
The department is seeking to build on successful cases last year in which it scored guilty pleas over corporate misconduct from Glencore and a unit of Allianz SE in exchange for billions of dollars in fines.