Through her Sept. 9, 2015, Memorandum entitled “Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing,” the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Sally Quillian Yates, issued clear marching orders to civil and criminal prosecutors that will surely shape current and future Wall Street prosecutions. The stated purpose of the memo, to improve “effective enforcement of the civil and criminal laws that protect [our nation’s] financial system…”(Sept. 9, 2015, Memorandum from Sally Quillian Yates, Page 1) makes it clear that this policy directive will dramatically impact the resolution of virtually all civil or criminal investigations for corporations and individuals in the financial services industry. The theme of the Deputy Attorney General’s message is equally clear: any corporation hoping to resolve a civil or criminal matter with the Department of Justice (DOJ) must be prepared to serve up individuals who have participated in wrongful conduct.
Although it is debatable whether this is in fact a shift in policy (as the Memorandum claims), what is clear is that this is the first time DOJ has articulated this policy in a written document. Therefore, anyone trying to resolve issues arising out of a civil or criminal investigation must be mindful of the marching orders to prosecutors contained in the Memorandum.
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