The most amazing thing about the Justice Department’s new guidelines on prosecution of corporate crime is that the DOJ is effectively acknowledging there was a big problem with how it did things before.
In a memo released yesterday by the Deputy Attorney General, Sally Quillian Yates, the DOJ said it plans to focus on prosecuting the actual individuals who commit corporate crime, no matter how senior they may be within a company, rather than focusing only on civil cases against the companies themselves.
“One of the most effective ways to combat corporate misconduct is by seeking accountability from the individuals who perpetrated the wrongdoing,” the memo reads. This “deters future illegal activity, it incentivizes change in future corporate behavior, it ensures that the proper parties are held responsible for their actions, and it promotes the public’s confidence in our justice system.”
Even in cases where financial institutions were forced to plead guilty to criminal charges, it seemed that no actual people were inside the companies who could be held responsible for breaking the law.