In the annual speeches at New York University Law School, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell specifically addressed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) continued interest in examining corporate executives allegedly responsible for corporate misconduct.  Mr. Caldwell discussed this issue in the context of shaping corporate culture through deterrence and explained DOJ’s expectations of companies that want to obtain credit from DOJ for cooperation.

At the New York University Law School’s Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement on April 17, 2015, Mr. Caldwell said that “true cooperation,” even in the context of making a voluntary criminal disclosure, “requires identifying the individuals actually responsible for the misconduct—be they executives or others—and the provision of all available facts relating to that misconduct.”

At the New York University Center on the Administration of Criminal Law’s Seventh Annual Conference on Regulatory Offenses and Criminal Law on April 14, 2015, Mr. Caldwell also focused on the application of the few criminal statutes that impose strict liability on certain conduct, such as the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, that may be used for both corporations and executives.  He discussed how the criminal section evaluates cases in parallel with the civil section and with the regulating agency to determine whether to pursue the case, and if so, what remedy to pursue, whether criminal prosecution, financial penalties, restitution, asset forfeiture or federal program exclusion or debarment.

These speeches continue to show the government’s interest in examining individual executive liability during investigations under the various statutory and regulatory authorities available, and also are consistent with other DOJ remarks during the past year placing emphasis on conducting parallel criminal and civil investigations.  General counsel should stay on top of these developments and discuss them with senior executives (as well as audit and compliance committees), both to enhance awareness of risks and as an opportunity to provide examples of individual conduct that should materially lessen exposure to individual liability.