It should come as no surprise that much of the recent 2022 ACI Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) conference centered around Department of Justice (DOJ) Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco’s September 15, 2022 memorandum (the “revised Monaco memo”) concerning updates to the DOJ’s corporate criminal enforcement policies.  Among other things, that memo directs components of DOJ to provide further guidance on (1) corporate compensation structures that promote compliance, (2) corporate use of personal devices and third-party applications, and (3) voluntary self-disclosure by corporations. Although attendees were hoping to receive that further guidance at the FCPA conference, the government stated only that it would be forthcoming. 

Of the three topics expected to be further clarified, many multi-national entities that have previously resolved FCPA or other regulatory violations are eagerly awaiting further guidance on voluntary self-disclosure and, in particular, whether recidivism is an aggravating factor that puts a guilty plea back on the table of possible outcomes for a corporation that otherwise voluntarily self-discloses, cooperates, and remediates. 

Continue Reading Is Corporate Recidivism an Aggravating Factor that Undermines the Potential Benefit of Voluntary Self-Disclosure to DOJ?  Time Will Tell.

Just this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced its enforcement results from fiscal year 2022. The Commission recovered a record $6.4 billion in penalties and disgorgement from companies and individuals. The announcement touted the 760 total enforcement actions in FY 2022—a nine percent increase from the year before—and summarized areas of innovation and growth within the Enforcement Division. Two such areas are familiar refrains that are worth highlighting: (1) the SEC leveraging its investigative process—emphasizing its use of data analytics—to identify suspicious activity; and (2) its penalties against “gatekeepers” (i.e., individuals and companies who owe a heightened duty of trust and responsibility to clients and investors).

Continue Reading Play it again, SEC: Two Familiar Refrains from the FY 2022 Enforcement Results

Background on the Guidelines and FOIA

On March 15, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) released new guidelines favoring the disclosure of federal agency records under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, FOIA established a statutory right of public access to executive branch records. At a high-level, FOIA provides that any person has a legally enforceable right to obtain federal agency records subject to the Act to the extent that such records are not protected from public disclosure by one of FOIA’s nine exemptions. The Supreme Court has explained that “the basic purpose of FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry,” which is “needed to check against corruption and hold the governors accountable to the governed.”

The DOJ’s new guidelines direct federal departments and agencies to apply a presumption of openness in administering FOIA and explicitly state that the DOJ will not defend nondisclosure decisions that fail to do so. Under the new guidelines, the executive branch should not withhold requested information that might fall within one of FOIA’s exemptions unless the relevant agency can identify a foreseeable harm or legal bar to disclosure. The guidelines also remind federal agencies that FOIA requires the proactive disclosure of records and emphasize that such agencies should make records more readily accessible without requiring individuals to file FOIA requests. As an example, the guidelines note that the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review will no longer require individuals to file FOIA requests to obtain copies of their own records of immigration court proceedings.

Continue Reading New DOJ Guidelines Regarding FOIA Create Presumption of Openness