In an interview with the Financial Times, John Carlin, a senior law enforcement official working in the department, said that “you will see cases in the coming weeks” involving “some of the biggest companies” operating in the United States.
Carlin said one of the potential targets of the DoJ were companies that had violated the terms of deferred prosecution agreements, which postpone criminal prosecutions for a set period of time to allow a company to prove it could remedy the problem. wrongdoing – often in exchange for a financial penalty. .
The ministry could notify companies that violate such agreements and take action against them, added Carlin, the senior assistant deputy attorney general.
The warning comes as the Biden administration prepares to follow through on its promise to usher in a stricter approach to corporate wrongdoing than during Donald Trump’s presidency, when the government was accused by some critics of adopting a more laissez-faire position.
He added that the department would also take “significant” action against companies that did not invest in the compliance systems they were required to put in place to ensure they did not break the law.
“There are going to be serious consequences,” Carlin warned. “You should expect in the days, months, years to come, this Attorney General’s unprecedented attention to corporate responsibility,” he said, referring to Merrick Garland, the government’s top lawyer. American.
He added: “Now is the time to get the house in order, to focus on compliance, because there is [are] if you don’t, the ministry will take tough enforcement action.
Carlin’s deputy and senior attorney general Lisa Monaco last month announced sweeping changes to the Justice Department’s enforcement policies, such as factoring in historical faults when investigating businesses.
Monaco also reported that the DoJ would encourage the appointment of independent observers – outside people appointed by authorities to ensure companies comply with deferred prosecution agreements. During the Trump administration, monitors were deemed unnecessary in many cases where DPAs were imposed.
The deputy attorney general said companies that seek leniency in exchange for cooperation with authorities must also identify all those linked to misconduct – regardless of their seniority.
This represented another change from the Trump era, when the department said companies only needed to identify people who were “significantly involved in or responsible for criminal conduct.”
The tougher posture comes after the number of corporate tort lawsuits brought by the Justice Department against individuals and businesses fell to its lowest level in 25 years in 2020, according to a University of Justice study. Syracuse.
Carlin said the Justice Department wanted “well-run companies” that invest in compliance and treat the misconduct of employees of all seniority seriously, “and this is true whether you are big or small.”
The renewed focus on corporate crime comes as the Biden administration pledges to crack down on anti-competitive practices, with the president signing an executive order in July to restrict the power of large corporations.
The Justice Department has already launched high-profile antitrust actions, including a lawsuit to block the merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, which would have created a publishing giant. He also filed a lawsuit to prevent the merger of Aon and Willis Towers Watson, a deal that would have formed the world’s largest insurance broker.