After 20 months on the job, the DOJ' s in-house compliance counsel, Hui Chen, formally resigned her position with the agency on June 23. The resignation followed a series of social media "tweets" and LinkedIn posts by Chen that began May 10, following President Trump's firing of then-FBI director James Comey. Although none directly attacked President Trump, they expressed Chen's concern about the "tone at the top," "unprincipled leadership," "improper influences" on her work, compromised investigations and diminished ethical values.
Prior to resigning, Chen had announced in May that she would be leaving DOJ at the end of her contract with the agency, which was to run through September 2017. In early June, the DOJ's website posted a job description for Chen's replacement, seeking a "highly qualified compliance attorney" to "assist the Fraud Section prosecutors with regard to compliance-related issues."
The fact that the DOJ plans to replace Hui Chen and maintain the position of Compliance Counsel appears to signal the agency's intent to stay the enforcement course set by the prior administration, including a heightened focus on enhanced compliance programs/internal controls. Chen's departure does call into question the extent to which DOJ will continue to focus on the issues highlighted in DOJ's Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (Evaluation Guidance) issued in February 2017. The Evaluation Guidance was largely viewed as Chen's brainchild, as it reflected the questions that she tended to ask about the compliance programs of companies that came before the DOJ. We recommend that companies stay the course on anti-corruption compliance and continue to incorporate the Evaluation Guidance until further information is available about DOJ's focus on this issue.