U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein promises an enforcement environment in which businesses can thrive. In a keynote address given at the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, he emphasized the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) commitment to “avoiding unnecessary interference in law-abiding enterprises.”
Rosenstein’s reassurance to the business community also included an apparent slight to the prior administration’s enforcement practices. “Corporate enforcement and settlement demands must always have a sound basis in the evidence and the law.” DOJ “should never use the threat of federal enforcement unfairly to extract settlements.” This seems to address criticism of DOJ’s negotiating tactics under the False Claims Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Rosenstein alleged that he offered “no breaking news” about DOJ policies. However, as second in charge at DOJ, his views shed light on DOJ’s enforcement and compliance expectations. His vision for how to implement existing policies will affect resolution of future investigations.
Rosenstein urged companies to go beyond their legal obligations for compliance measures and cooperation. DOJ will continue to reward businesses that self-report and cooperate with federal investigations. “The Department can move forward not only to punish wrongdoers, but also to identify and implement policies that deter future crimes.” Prompt self-reporting by a company will influence an enforcement decision. DOJ “notices and evaluates carefully whether a corporate compliance program is applied faithfully.” He believes a company will thrive in the long term by working with, not against, the Department.
Another effort by Rosenstein to support those that “follow the rules” is the Working Group on Corporate Enforcement and Accountability. The Working Group will recommend ideas on promoting individual accountability and corporate cooperation. Additionally, the Department will evaluate whether to continue the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Rosenstein also plans to clean up DOJ’s administrative landscape by working to “reduce regulations and to control costs.” This will allow companies to understand and comply with their obligations more easily. The U.S. Attorneys’ Manual will be updated by consolidating and incorporating policy memoranda. Rosenstein also supported President Trump’s January 2017 Executive Order requiring that for every new administrative regulation proposed, two had to be identified for repeal. Rosenstein believes making policies cleaner and more easily accessible will be good for both DOJ and for business.
Rosenstein may offer major policy changes ahead. In the meantime, in this and other recent speeches, he has made clear that the way forward for the DOJ will not be business as usual.