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Jamie Schafer represents both corporations and individuals in complex U.S. and cross-border criminal and regulatory matters.

On October 18, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a guilty plea by Lafarge, S.A., a French building materials company, and its Syria-based subsidiary, for providing material support to designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The case represents the first criminal prosecution of a company for providing material support to terrorism and demonstrates that the agency is putting teeth behind its recent pronouncements that that it will prioritize national security-related investigations.

Last year, the DOJ announced that one of the agency’s top priorities was fighting corporate crime, with an enhanced focus on national security issues.  As Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco explained, “[c]orporate crime has an increasing national security dimension — from the new role of sanctions and export control cases to cyber vulnerabilities that open companies up to foreign attacks.” In September 2022, the DOJ updated its enforcement guidance, notably confirming that misconduct posing a grave threat to national security will be an aggravating factor in deciding whether to take enforcement action in corporate criminal matters. The Lafarge case and other recent enforcement actions highlight the DOJ’s commitment to these principles and portend heightened focus on prosecuting corporations whose compliance and oversight missteps result in threats to U.S. national security.

Continue Reading DOJ Continues to Prioritize National Security-Related Cases with First Corporate Terrorism Support Prosecution

On September 29, 2022, the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued its highly anticipated Final Rule implementing the beneficial ownership information (“BOI”) reporting requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) legislation. The Final Rule brings about the most significant revisions to the U.S. anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (“AML/CFT”) compliance framework in more than 20 years, implementing sweeping beneficial ownership disclosure requirements applicable to all U.S. companies and foreign companies doing business with or within the U.S.

The Final Rule generally tracks FinCEN’s earlier Proposed Rule from December 7, 2021, discussed in our prior article here, although there have been a few amendments to the earlier proposal. Below we provide a brief summary of key provisions and takeaways from the Final Rule, which goes into effect on January 1, 2024.

Continue Reading FinCEN Issues Highly Anticipated Final Rule on Beneficial Ownership Reporting under the Corporate Transparency Act

On September 15, 2022, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Lisa Monaco, announced several significant policy updates impacting the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) enforcement practices for both corporations and individuals. Speaking to attendees at the NYU Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement (PCCE), DAG Monaco detailed a series of initiatives, some of which appear to have emerged from the Corporate Crime Advisory Group formed last fall to conduct a full-scale review of the DOJ’s corporate enforcement efforts. The DOJ simultaneously released a memorandum outlining the guidance announced by DAG Monaco. 

The new guidance bolsters enforcement priorities that DAG Monaco has emphasized over the past year. As discussed in further detail below, the Department’s policy updates are substantive and have significant ramifications on both the individual and corporate level, including: (1) continued focus on individual accountability; (2) enhanced policies to predictably reward voluntary self-disclosure; (3) further clarity on the impact of corporate recidivism considerations on negotiated resolutions with the DOJ; and (4) new metrics for evaluating effective corporate compliance, including compliance conscious compensation structures and policies on the use of personal devices and third party messaging applications.

Continue Reading DOJ Announces Sweeping Policy Updates Targeting Corporate Criminal Enforcement and Individual Accountability

The U.S. Treasury is taking a fresh look at requiring investment advisers to meet the same standards as banks and broker-dealers, including potentially subjecting investment advisers to the BSA/AML compliance and reporting requirements that apply to other types of financial institutions. 
Continue Reading U.S. Treasury Renews Focus on AML Risks for Investment Advisors

On April 14, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory focusing on detecting kleptocrats (i.e., government officials who appropriate national resources for personal gain) and the proceeds of foreign public corruption and preventing them from entering the U.S. financial system. This guidance is the latest in a series of advisories FinCEN has issued focusing on Russian kleptocracy, and is part of a broader strategic initiative among key U.S. and global law enforcement and regulatory agencies focusing on corruption and money laundering as critical national security risks. In particular, the advisory highlights the enhanced focus of U.S. enforcement resources on the attempts of Russian oligarchs to evade sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. law enforcement and regulatory agencies have high expectations as to the compliance efforts U.S. companies will adopt to meet this moment. Enforcement against companies and individuals involved in missteps is likely to be aggressive and robustly resourced. Indeed, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on April 6, 2022, in connection with the unsealing of an indictment of a Russian oligarch charged with U.S. sanctions violations, that it will “work relentlessly to counter Russian aggression, including by enforcing U.S. sanctions law.”
Continue Reading As Russia Sanctions Mount, FinCEN Issues Advisory on Kleptocracy and Foreign Public Corruption

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco delivered an exacting message to the white-collar defense bar at the ABA’s 36th National Institute on White Collar Crime: the DOJ is stepping up its enforcement of corporate crime through several new initiatives. Speaking to an audience of white-collar criminal defense attorneys, DAG Monaco marched through a series of initiatives that will rollback more lenient enforcement policies adopted during the prior administration. This increase in enforcement will be buoyed by a surge of resources provided to DOJ prosecutors, including a new squad of FBI agents embedded in the DOJ’s Criminal Fraud Section—placing “agents and prosecutors in the same foxhole,” as DAG Monaco described it. As discussed in further detail below, these efforts have ramifications on both the individual and corporate level, including: (1) increased individual accountability; (2) a focus on corporate recidivism; and (3) greater scrutiny of corporate resolutions with the DOJ.

Focus on Individual Accountability. First, the DOJ is renewing its focus on holding individual actors responsible for corporate wrongdoing.  As such, DAG Monaco announced that the DOJ is reviving its policy that companies will only be eligible for cooperation credit in resolutions with the DOJ if they provide prosecutors with non-privileged information about all individuals involved in or responsible for the misconduct at issue—regardless of the individual’s position, status, or seniority. This pronouncement reverses the DOJ’s prior guidance, which allowed companies to receive cooperation credit for disclosing only those individuals “substantially involved” in the misconduct.
Continue Reading Corporate Compliance Crackdown: DOJ Announces New Enforcement Policies for Business Entities