The DOJ’s New Policy of Prosecuting Individuals

September 11, 2015

On September 9, 2015, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates of the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ” or the “Department”) issued a new policy memorandum (the “Yates Memo”) entitled “Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing.” This short memorandum states a series of “six key steps to strengthen [the] pursuit of individual corporate wrongdoing, some of which reflect policy shifts[.]”

The Yates Memo seems to represent a response by DOJ to public criticism that while some large financial institutions have recently been subject to significant financial penalties, few individuals at these institutions have been prosecuted. The memo apparently grew out of the efforts of a working group within the Department that considered the particular challenges involved in individual prosecutions. The Yates Memo and the recent news coverage related to it suggest that DOJ will increase its focus on the prosecution of individuals.

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