Chamber of Commerce Academic Task Force on Corporate Crime

Ever hear of the Chamber of Commerce’s Academic Task Force on Corporate Crime?

Neither did we.

Until last week.

The Task Force was organized in 2008 by the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform.

The idea was to pull together a group of legal academics to get behind the Chamber’s agenda on corporate crime — to somehow limit corporate criminal liability.

Most probably, by getting behind some kind of corporate compliance defense.

Some of the top academics in the field were invited to a couple of meetings at the Chamber’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The academics included — NYU Law Professor Jennifer Arlen, Duke Law Professor Sara Sun Beale, Rutgers Law Professor Stuart Green, Wayne State Law Professor Peter Henning, Washington & Lee Law Professor Erik Luna, Georgetown Law Professor Julie O’Sullivan, Alabama Law Professor Pamela Pierson, and Stetson Law Professor Ellen Podgor.

The Chamber paid for travel and lodging for the group.

Leading the group was Andrew Weissmann, the former Enron prosecutor who was then in private practice representing the Chamber and other private clients at the firm Jenner & Block.

Weissmann had just penned a law review article for the Indiana Law Review titled Rethinking Corporate Criminal Liability, in which he put forth a detailed argument for the corporate compliance defense.

If the Chamber hoped that Weissmann could get the academics behind the Chamber’s corporate crime agenda — and Weissmann’s corporate compliance defense — that hope was dashed after the first meeting.

There was no agreement.

While some in the group agreed with Weissmann on the corporate crime defense, there was no consensus.

During a subsequent meeting, the Chamber proposed funding a symposium at the Georgetown Law Center, where some of the academics would join a group of corporate crime defense lawyers to bat around the issues.

And on April 21, 2009, the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform sponsored a symposium titled Achieving the Right Balance: The Role of Corporate Criminal Law in Ensuring Corporate Compliance.

The symposium featured Weissmann, Henning, Beale, Luna, Podgor and Green, among others.

And Pepsico’s Larry Thompson — author of the Thompson memo.

Papers from the symposium were published in the American Criminal Law Review.

The Chamber eventually did come out with a paper favoring the corporate compliance defense — in the context of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

But the academics names weren’t on it.

Only Weissmann’s and Jenner & Block associate Alixandra Smith’s.

The paper was titled – Restoring Balance: Proposed Amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (October 2010.)

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