Christina Egan and Brandon Santos Discuss DOJ Shift on Corporate Investigations

March 21, 2019

In an interview for the March-April edition of Corporate Counsel Business Journal, Chicago partner Christina Egan and Richmond partner Brandon Santos – both former federal prosecutors – discussed recent changes to the Department of Justice’s policy for rewarding cooperation in investigations of corporate wrongdoing.

In the Q&A titled “DOJ Policy Shift Returns Discretion to Prosecutors,” Egan and Santos, members of McGuireWoods’ Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department, described the policy change and how it will affect corporations.

Santos said the shift “is really more of a return to traditional DOJ corporate prosecution principles, and the goal is to provide additional discretion to prosecutors and make cooperation by corporations less of an all-or-nothing proposition.”

Previous policy, Santos noted, “required companies that wished to receive cooperation credit to identify information related to all individuals who had participated in or were aware of the underlying misconduct. That was a tricky proposition for companies that were trying to cooperate.”

The revised policy requires companies to identify only individuals who were “substantially involved” in alleged wrongdoing.

“By focusing on the individuals who played a significant role in the wrongdoing, as opposed to any individual employee who may have touched the misconduct in some tangential way, it puts the focus back on those who are actually culpable,” Egan explained.

Egan, managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office, said companies and their lawyers “should also recognize that with their newfound ability to do things more efficiently, they’re really in a position to conduct a thorough internal investigation that puts them in the best position to take advantage of the new approach the government is taking.”