A new US policy to prosecute corporate wrongdoing is drawing flak for being too late after the 2008-2009 financial meltdown and housing crisis.
The policy, unveiled by the Justice Department on Thursday, spells out revised guidelines for prosecutors to focus on wrongdoing by corporate executives.
However, Reuters is reporting the guidelines is being met with skepticism from at least one consumer advocacy group and politicians critical of President Barack Obama’s administration.
The policy “amounts to a striking admission that the DOJ’s policy on Wall Street corporate crime has been completely ineffective,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a statement.
Weissman said the real test would be whether or not prosecutors can put the policy into action.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said in a speech at New York University School of Law that companies must be more willing to give up their own officers or employees, not hide people’s crimes when authorities start asking questions.
“We’re not going to let corporations plead ignorance. If they don’t know who is responsible, they will need to find out,” Yates said.
A memo circulated on Wednesday said that in future investigations a company would not receive any credit for cooperating unless it disclosed all relevant facts about the people involved in suspected wrongdoing or crimes.
It may be some time, however, before there are visible results.
The changes apply to current matters only to the extent it is practicable, according to the memo, and complex white-collar investigations often take years to complete.
It also remained to be seen how long the shift in emphasis would last because a new administration will take office in January 2017.
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