In the next few months, the DOJ will have a new member on the team evaluating corporate compliance programs for the determination of the appropriateness of prosecution and penalties under laws like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The Justice Department already has experts in subject matters such as accounting and forensics. The hiring of this candidate, who has been selected but is undergoing a background check, will be used in assisting the government’s determination of whether the company deserves a larger monetary penalty, or even no fine whatsoever, due to the ineffectiveness or strength of its compliance program.
The DOJ has previously told companies they will be rewarded under the FCPA for strong anti-corruption programs and the quick detection of improper payments through internal accounting controls. In a few different previous government declinations to prosecute under the FCPA, the DOJ has cited strong compliance efforts and self-reporting as reasons to not prosecute companies criminally.
Th creation of this position is likely in response to the growth in compliance programs at banks and large corporations. In order to avoid fines from regulators that are reaching into the billions of dollars, some banks are spending up to $4 billion a year to comply with laws and regulations. In early 2014, the Wall Street Journal called the Compliance Officer the hottest job in America.
Yet, even with the employment of more compliance professionals, companies are still violating the law. There have already been two awards to securities whistleblowers employed in a compliance or audit position. These individuals face a 120 day waiting period before they can become eligible for a reward when they report to the SEC whistleblower program.