DOJ’s new guidance for compliance programs

On February 8, 2017, the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) published a guide for companies called “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” (the “Guidance”). The Guidance is composed of common questions that the DOJ asks when evaluating a company’s compliance program.

While the Guidance questions are largely based on familiar sources, such as the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the “Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations” in the United States Attorney’s Manual, [1] the questions provide a greater degree of detail and insight into the DOJ’s process for evaluating compliance programs.

The Guidance focuses on three overarching areas: (1) company culture, (2) compliance structure and resources, and (3) the effectiveness of company policies and procedures.

Regarding company culture, the Guidance questions focus on the behavior of senior and middle management. The Guidance asks whether management and company leaders have encouraged or discouraged the misconduct in question, and whether their actions have demonstrated a commitment to ensuring compliance.

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Further, the Guidance inquires into the responsiveness of management to compliance concerns and the remedial steps taken after misconduct was discovered. The Guidance also asks whether management has incentivized compliance and ethical behavior, and whether the company has considered any potential negative compliance implications of its business model and incentive structure.

Source: Harvard Law School Forum

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