Prosecutors Given New Guidelines for Investigating White Collar Crime
On the same day that the United States Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal charges against 13 former KPMG executives due to a finding that their constitutional rights had been violated, the United States Justice Department announced new guidelines for the prosecution of white collar crime. In the KPMG case, federal prosecutors would not allow KPMG to pay the legal fees of its executives. This was just one of the many tactics used in the past by federal prosecutors to compel cooperation from corporations and its individuals. The department faced criticism from corporations, attorney groups, and legislatures over its practice of “cooperate or face indictment”. Often times, cooperation would involve compelling privileged information and testimony from corporate officers, attorneys, etc., and as seen in the KPMG case, restriction on the company from paying legal fees for its officers.
The new guidelines set forth that prosecutors may not undermine attorney-client privilege, consider whether the company is paying the legal fees of its employees, officers or directors being investigated for wrongdoing, and whether a company has made joint defense agreements with other firms or individuals. Prosecutors may also only consider whether a corporation has disciplined employees “that the corporation identifies as culpable, and only for the purpose of evaluating remedial measures or compliance program”, whereas before prosecutors could consider whether a corporation disciplined or fired employees for the purposes of evaluating cooperation. Some critics have called for permanent legislation rather than simply guidelines, including Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, but agree that this is a step in the right direction. Corporate law groups also hope that similar guidelines are adopted by other government agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.
There are many types of white collar crime, ranging from RICO and Money Laundering to all types of Fraud. Attorney Marc Neff has over 20 years experience successfully representing corporate and business executives, professionals, public officials, and others charged with federal white collar crimes. For a confidential consultation, contact our office via phone at (215) 563-9800 or via e-mail at Marc@nefflawoffices.com.