US Deputy Attorney General: Focus on Individual Wrongdoing to Promote Compliance

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Yates Memorandum, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) memorandum drafted by Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates, which announced revisions to the US Attorney’s Manual (USAM). One purpose of the Yates Memorandum was to refocus corporate compliance on individual accountability. To do so, it created incentives for companies to prioritize a culture of compliance and make compliance, both corporate and individual, an integral part of their operations. Additionally, if a civil or criminal enforcement investigation does occur, the DOJ will evaluate the timeliness, diligence and thoroughness of the company’s discovery and identification of individual responsibility when assessing any cooperation credit.

In this article, published in the September 9, 2016 issue of Securities Regulation Daily, Squire Patton Boggs Partner Barry A. Pupkin examines how companies are meeting the lofty goal of creating a culture of compliance that is central to corporate decision-making and fits within a company’s business incentives of profit maximization and competition. As in the highly regulated securities context, businesses touched by stringent environmental laws should similarly consider this renewed focus on individual accountability and on ways to incorporate regulatory environmental regulatory compliance into their company culture.