Justice Department to Announce Change in Corporate Crime Enforcement

The Justice Department is set to announce a change in corporate crime enforcement.

Lisa Monaco

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will appear at NYU Law School tomorrow to make the announcement.

The Department said that “the changes are the result of a comprehensive review conducted over the past year of existing policies.” 

After she makes her remarks, Monaco will participate in a moderated question and answer session.

Earlier this year, a number of law professors met with Monaco to advocate for the phase out of the promiscuous use of deferred prosecution agreements and an end to the use of non prosecution agreements to settle major corporate crime prosecutions.

One of those law professors, Columbia Law Professor John Coffee, called for such a phase out in his book Corporate Crime and Punishment.

“A number of law professors, including myself, met with the Deputy Attorney General,” Coffee told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview earlier this year. “That was a theme several of us raised. The first significant reform would be to end non prosecution agreements. With deferred prosecution agreements, there should be significant changes.”

Coffee said that non prosecution agreements are worse than deferred prosecution agreements.

“With a non prosecution agreement, there is no document publicly filed,” Coffee said. “The Department of Justice and the corporation settle without there being a court having any oversight at all.”

The Biden Justice Department’s recent track record in prosecuting major corporate crimes has been anemic.

Earlier this year, Public Citizen’s Rick Claypool put out a report highlighting the Department’s “disappointing enforcement numbers and policy decisions” on corporate crime.

A report by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility found that criminal anti-pollution enforcement has not rebounded since Trump left office – and that criminal referrals for prosecution from the Environmental Protection Agency actually fell further in 2021. 

The Department’s Fraud Section also reported a decline in corporate enforcement actions. The section reported just eight corporate resolutions in 2021, down from 13 in 2020.

Claypool said that calls by Public Citizen and other advocates for Attorney General Merrick Garland to release the Department’s corporate crime enforcement data remain unanswered.

And Claypool said that the Department blocked an effort by plane crash victims to reopen the agreement the department inked in the final days of the Trump administration with Boeing to resolve the case regarding the 737 Max crashes, which killed 346 people. The Department claimed the family members of those who died in the crashes do not meet the technical legal definition of “crime victims” – and so are denied the right to confer with the department about the case. 

Those victims’ families have been in federal court in Ft. Worth, Texas seeking to have the Boeing deferred prosecution tossed because the Department failed to consult with those victims before entering the agreement with Boeing,  as required under the Crime Victims Rights Act. 

A decision from federal judge Reed O’Connor is expected within the next couple of weeks.

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