Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Scholarship -International White Collar Crime and the Globalization of Internal Investigations

By Lucian Dervan - available here-

Abstract: Much has been written about the methods by which counsel may efficiently, thoroughly, and credibly conduct internal investigations. Given the globalization of such matters, however, this article seeks to focus on the challenges present when conducting an internal investigation of potential international white-collar criminal activity. In Part I, this article will examine the challenges of selecting counsel to perform internal investigations abroad. In particular, consideration will be given to global standards regarding the application of the attorney-client privilege and work product protections. In Part II, this article will discuss the influence of data privacy and protection laws in various countries and analyze the challenges of attempting to conduct an American-style internal investigation in such jurisdictions. Part III of this article will examine interactions with employees during international internal investigations and will consider the challenges of complying with varying labor laws and due process requirements around the world. Finally, in Part IV, this article will discuss the hazards of multi-jurisdictional investigations by government agencies. In particular, consideration will be given to decisions regarding the disclosure of investigatory findings and the difficulties of engaging in settlement negotiations in an international enforcement environment.

(esp)

July 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Serious Financial Allegations Deserve Criminal Investigation

My learned and astute co-editor, Solomon Wisenberg, bridled at the thought of a criminal investigation of the Libor bank scandal (see here), which he believes will be a waste of time, and of the JP Morgan Chase trading loss (see here), which he believes lacks evidence of criminality.  While I do not know enough about these matters to dispute his reasons, I nonetheless strongly believe a criminal investigation is warranted in both instances.

Financial manipulations which cost shareholders and customers of large institutions millions (or billions) of dollars require criminal investigation, and, if identifiable provable criminal wrongdoing is found, criminal prosecution.  It has become clear that those institutions and their employees are incapable or unwilling to police themselves, and, as Mr. Wisenberg points out, the responsible regulatory agencies have often been asleep at the switch or even compliant.

That is not to say that every massive financial loss involves criminality or that weak or questionable criminal prosecutions should be brought to soothe the popular thirst for criminal punishment.  It is not to say that genuine defenses, such as estoppel due to government approval or acquiescence, should not prevent prosecution.  But for the huge financial institutions, even a penalty of almost a half billion dollars, as in the Barclays Bank "deferred prosecution" deal (effectively a "non-prosecution" deal), is merely a cost of doing business passed on to shareholders.  And for many of the traders and manipulators, who always weigh risk but rarely morality, only the risk of a criminal prosecution (which for them involves potential prison sentences) will have any serious deterrent effect.

To be sure, criminal investigations, even without prosecutions, may deter innovation and creativity in financial vehicles and dealings (although I am not so sure that is a bad thing).  Additionally, investigations themselves cause mental distress, potential loss of reputation, and considerable legal fees.  Criminal investigations, therefore, should not be started without careful consideration by law enforcement or prosecutorial agencies.  But massive losses of other people's money should almost always require an examination beyond a regulatory or civil one by our historically inept financial regulatory agencies.

Every death by other than natural causes, every fire of any proportion, and every serious automobile accident is reviewed by authorities for possible criminal prosecution.  Is there any reason an unusual massive financial loss of other people's money should be exempt from scrutiny for possible criminality?  I think not.

(goldman)

July 24, 2012 in Current Affairs, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Fraud, Investigations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In the News & Around the Blogosphere

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Scholarship - Global Bribery: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

By - Lucian Dervan & Markus Rubenstahl - available here

Abstract: Written for a European publication focusing on internal investigations, this piece seeks to introduce the reader to the fundamental elements of the American FCPA, including discussion of available defenses under the statute. Further, this piece discusses some of the collateral considerations that must be made during the investigation of an FCPA matter, particularly given the existence of overlapping anti-bribery provisions in various countries throughout the world and the likelihood of concurrent parallel proceedings both in the United States and abroad during the pendency of any international bribery matter. Finally, this piece offers some thoughts regarding FCPA compliance programs.

(esp)

July 21, 2012 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hon. Beryl Howell Interprets Southern Union Co.

The Supreme Court, in Southern Union Co. held that "where a fine is so insubstantial that the underlying offense is considered 'petty' the Sixth Amendment right of jury trial is not triggered and no Apprendi issue arises."  But the Court then went on to say that "not all fines are insubstantial, and not all offenses punishable by fines are petty."  The final ruling was that "Apprendi applies to the imposition of criminal fines."  (see here)

Today a district court interpreted that decision with the Hon. Beryl A. Howell penning the decision in United States v. Sanford LTD & James Pogue. The court looked at whether "evidence of monetary proceeds is either permitted or required to be presented to the jury."  So the court needed to examine Southern Union and also the Alternative Fines Act, 18 U.S.C. s 3571(d) and determine whether gross revenues offered by the government should be admitted under the Fed. R. Evid. Rules 402 and 403.    

The district court starts by noting that motive is admissible evidence and that the "relevance is not substantially outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice."  That said, the court goes a step further holding "that the government's proposed specific measure of monetary proceeds ($24,045,930.79 in gross revenues) may not be admitted, standing alone, to establish the 'gross gain' that Sanford 'derive[d]...from' the charged offenses under 18 U.S.C. s 3571(d)."  The court stated, "[t]he government may not admit that specific monetary figure except to the extent, and only if, necessary for the jury to establish or calculate the appropriate measure of 'gross gain' 'derive[d] ...from' the charged offense, which the Court defines" later in its opinion.

It is here that things get particularly interesting.  Hon. Howell notes the ambiguity in the term "gross"  monetary amount. Being a master of the sentencing guidelines, Hon. Howell points out how the guidelines provide guidance on the meaning of "gross gain." She provides a wonderful lesson on the legislative history, even referencing the Model Penal Code. She notes how there are conflicting opinions on what constitutes gross gains. (nice law review topic for a student looking for the jurisdictional split for his or her student note). In the end she defines "gross gain" to mean "any additional before-tax profit to the defendant that derives from the relevant conduct of the offense."

But she also notes the importance of the term "derived from" and "concludes that the term ...requires that the government prove that a given monetary amount (either a gain or a loss) was proximately caused by the conduct of the charged offense in order to qualify as a 'gross gain' under s 3571(d)."

The court noted that it "requires additional information before deciding whether allowing the government to seek a fine under s 3571(d) would 'unduly complicate or prolong' the trial."

Hats off here to Attorney Greg Linsin of Blank Rome who raised this issue.

(esp) (w/ a hat tip to Irwin Schwartz).

July 19, 2012 in Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Big Dig Sentence Decision

The First Circuit affirmed the sentences of Robert Prosperi and Gregory Stevenson. The government appealed the sentences following their convictions for mail fraud, highway project fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government. "Both appellees were employees of Aggregate Industries NE, Inc. ('Aggregate'), a subcontractor that provided concrete for Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel project, popularly known as the 'Big Dig.'"  The judge calculated the sentence under the guidelines as 87-108 months and then gave the defendants 6 months of home monitoring, 3 years probation, and 1,000 hours of community service. 

The appellate court found the sentences met the reasonableness standard. The First Circuit stated: 

Although the degree to which the sentences vary from the GSR gives us pause, the district court's explanation ultimately supports the reasonableness of the sentences imposed.  The district court emphasized that its finding on the loss amount caused by the crimes, the most significant factor in determining the GSR, was imprecise and did not fairly reflect the defendants' culpability.  Hence it would not permit the loss estimate to unduly drive its sentencing decision.  Relatedly, it found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the defendants' conduct made the Big Dig unsafe in any way or that the defendants profited from the offenses.  The court then supplemented these critical findings with consideration of the individual circumstances of the defendants and concluded that probationary sentences were appropriate.  We cannot say that it abused its discretion in doing so.

The judges ended this thoughtful opinion with:

In this case, the district court carefully explained its sentencing decisions.  Most significantly, the court explained why the estimated loss amount was an unfair proxy for culpability, and why it should not drive the sentencing process.  Importantly, it also found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the defendants' conduct compromised the structural integrity of the Big Dig, or that they sought to enrich themselves.  Coupled with the individual circumstances of the defendants, these findings provided a "plausible explanation [for the sentences], and the overall result is defensible."  Innarelli, 524 F.3d at 292.

It is nice to see judges looking at the individuals and not sentencing by the numbers.

See also Doug Bermans, Sentencing Law & Policy here

(esp)

July 19, 2012 in Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Freeh Report on Paterno Reaches Speculative But Reasonable Conclusion

Joe Paterno was buried a second time last week -- partly by a report of former judge and FBI Director Louis Freeh and partly by accounts like that of the New York Times, which in a four-column lead story headlined "Abuse Scandal Inquiry Damns Paterno and Penn State," wrote "Mr. Freeh's investigation makes clear that it was Mr. Paterno . . . who persuaded the university president and others not to report Mr. Sandusky to the authorities . . . ." (emphasis added).  See here.  A reading of the report, however, shows that its conclusions as to Paterno are based on hearsay, innuendo and surmise.  While a report such as the Freeh Report certainly need not be based on court-admissible testimony, if indeed the evidence referred to in the report constituted the sole basis for a criminal and/or civil charge against Paterno, the case undoubtedly would be thrown out and would not reach a jury.

The relevant evidence involving Paterno is as follows:

  • In May 1998, with respect to an allegation that Sandusky had showered with an eleven year-old on the Penn State campus, Tim Curley, the Penn athletic director, notified his superiors that he had "touched base" with Paterno about the incident and days later sent to them an email "Anything new in this department?  Coach [Paterno] is anxious to know where it stands."
  • In February 2001, after he observed Sandusky sexually molesting a youth in a Penn State shower room, Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant, reported the incident to Paterno, who told him, "You did what you had to do.  It is my job now to figure out what we want to do."  The following day, a Sunday, Paterno reported the incident to Curley and Gary Schultz, a Penn State vice-president.  Paterno waited a day or so not to "interfere with their weekend."
  • Later in the month, Graham Spanier, the Penn State president, Schultz and Curley devised an action plan which included reporting the incident to the state welfare agency.  A day or so later, Curley emailed Schultz and Spanier and said that he had changed his mind about the plan "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe [Paterno] yesterday," and now felt that they should instead tell Sandusky to seek professional help and not report him to the welfare authorities unless he did not cooperate.

The first item, the 1998 Curley email, merely demonstrates that Paterno showed an interest in what was happening with reference to the 1998 incident, which ultimately was reported to both the welfare department and the local prosecutor and resulted in no findings or charges.  Paterno reportedly in 2011, after the incident involving Sandusky's 2001 conduct and the failure to report it to authorities raised public attention, denied that he was aware of the 1998 incident.  In fact, Paterno's testimony in the grand jury in which he purportedly denied any such knowledge was in response to an imprecise, general and unfocused question, and his answer was accordingly unclear.  Additionally, the reported statement denying any prior knowledge was by his "family" and not by him.

In any case, while a denial, if made directly by Paterno or even an authorized agent, might arguably be admissible in court as evidence of consciousness of guilt, such evidence is weak proof of guilt since even wholly blameless people often make false statements distancing themselves from wrongdoing.

The second item, Paterno's response to McQueary is by itself of little moment and says no more than that Paterno, having been apprised of the incident, would now have to figure out what he and the others will do.  Of course, one can read into that facially bland statement a more sinister meaning -- that Paterno intended to tell McQueary to remain silent.  Such a meaning, however, is supported only by surmise and suspicion.  The report also states that Paterno waited a day before reporting the information to Curley and Schultz so as not to "interfere with their weekends."  This one-day delay is not meaningful.

The third item, Curley's change of mind after "talking it over with Joe," might, not unreasonably, albeit with a considerable leap, be construed to indicate that Paterno suggested not reporting the incident to the authorities.  However, it might also be that Curley changed his mind on his own after airing his thoughts with Paterno and deciding that the earlier plan was not preferable.  It is, of course, also possible that whatever Curley wrote, his mention of discussions with Paterno (without any direct or indirect report of Paterno's own views) was an attempt by Curley to minimize or shift personal responsibility from himself.  In any case, any probative value this email has as to Paterno's intent is also based on speculation.

Freeh himself seems to recognize that his conclusions are far from "clear."  He mentions that Curley and Schultz contended that they acted "humanely" and sought "the best way to handle vague and troubling allegations," that Paterno had told a reporter he had "backed away and turned it over to . . . people I thought would have a little more expertise," and that Spanier had denied knowledge "Sandusky was engaged in any sexual abuse of children."

He then rejects these explanations and concludes, "Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, the Special Investigative Counsel finds that is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the University -- Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley -- repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the University's Board of Trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at large" (emphasis added).  During a press conference specifically focusing on Paterno's culpability, Freeh, seemingly inconsistently with the qualified "available witness statements and evidence" language of the report, appeared to exaggerate, "There's a whole bunch of evidence here."  He continued, "And we're saying that the reasonable conclusion from that evidence is that [Paterno] was an integral part of this active decision to conceal" (emphasis added).

I tend to agree that Freeh's conclusion is the "more reasonable" hypothesis, but I do so based more on a visceral feeling and some understanding of Paterno's power and status at the university than an evidentiary basis.  The "facts" demonstrating Paterno's "active" role in the cover-up are insubstantial and equivocal.  The case against Paterno is, as a Scotch jury might say, "not proven."  Perhaps we should require more substantial proof before we topple Paterno's statue -- figuratively and actually.

(goldman)

July 17, 2012 in Celebrities, Current Affairs, Investigations, Media, News, Sports | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Libor: The Regulatory Mind And the Prosecutorial Mind (2)

As I mentioned here last Wednesday:

"By ignoring material financial falsehoods, the regulators and examiners allow frauds to continue and decrease the likelihood of future accountability through the criminal process."

The New York Fed's Friday data dump reveals beyond question that some of its officials, including Timothy Geithner, were aware of intentionally misreported Libors by 2008 at the latest. Today's Wall Street Journal editorial lays out the damning transcripts.

What does this mean? For openers it means that DOJ's announcement of a criminal investigation is a joke. Regulators and government officials at the highest levels knew of the misrepresentation. By not immediately raising bloody hell and putting a stop to it they either sanctioned the conduct, rendering it non-criminal, or themselves became co-conspirators.

Do you really think DOJ is about to investigate Geithner or drag him into somebody else's criminal defense? Get real. These people can't even prosecute robo-signers.

(wisenberg)

July 17, 2012 in Civil Enforcement, Current Affairs, International, Investigations, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lying Juror Requires New Trial in Massive Tax Fraud Case

Last month, in a thorough 64-page opinion, Southern District of New York Judge William Pauley ordered a new trial for three of four defendants convicted in what he described as "the largest tax fraud prosecution in U.S. history" because a juror, Catherine M. Conrad, had lied her way into being accepted as a juror.  United States v. Daugerdas, et al., 09 Cr. 581.

There appears to be little question Ms. Conrad, a suspended lawyer, connived to make herself in her own word "marketable" so that she could have "an interesting trial experience" as a juror.  In voir dire, she lied about her education, claiming the highest level she had reached was a B.A. when in fact she had a law degree.  She concealed not only her membership in and suspension from the bar but her own criminal convictions -- for shoplifting, DWI, contempt and aggravated harassment -- as well as her husband's extensive criminal history, which included a seven-year prison stay.  She made, according to the court, a "calculated, criminal decision to get on the jury." 

At a post-trial hearing at which she was granted use immunity, Conrad stated that if the truth were known, "defense counsel would be wild to have me on the jury."  In fact, however, Conrad turned out to be extremely biased against the defendants.  In a congratulatory letter she sent to the prosecutors after the trial, she said she was "privileged to observe la creme de la creme -- KUDOS to you and your team."  In that letter, she mentioned that she had fought against but ultimately had "thrown[n] in the towel" on a not guilty verdict on one of the counts concerning defendant David Parse.  At the hearing, she testified that "most attorneys" are "career criminals."  Two of the four convicted defendants were practicing lawyers; Parse was a non-practicing lawyer.

Judge Pauley, clearly upset by the need to retry a case which took three months, strongly urged the government to prosecute Conrad.  Perhaps concerned that the government might feel that prosecuting her would be inconsistent with its opposition to a new trial, he added, "The prospect of preserving a tainted jury verdict should not temper the Government's resolve to call Conrad to account for her egregious conduct."  Any prosecution of Conrad, however, obviously would have Kastigar obstacles because of her immunity.

The judge, following the Supreme Court's decision in McDonough Power v. Greenwood, 464 U.S. 548 (1984), found that in order to obtain a new trial, the moving party must "first demonstrate that a juror failed to answer honestly a material question on voir dire and then further show that a correct response would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause" (emphasis added).  Apparently, even in a criminal case, the mere existence of a juror who deliberately lied her way onto the jury may not be sufficient to require a new trial.  See United States v. Martha Stewart, 433 F.3d 273 (2d Cir. 2006).  The McDonough test appears to be "If the juror hypothetically had answered truthfully, would her truthful answers have led to a challenge for cause?"  Thus, unknown facts that might have affected her fitness to serve as a juror which would not in any case have been revealed by accurate responses to voir dire questioning presumably should not be considered.

In a lengthy analysis, mingling those hypothetical answers to questions asked during jury selection with, somewhat questionably, facts learned and impressions formed at the post-verdict hearing -- including Conrad's discovered dishonesty, bias and her animus to lawyers -- the court found that the McDonough criteria had been amply met.  Accordingly, it ordered a new trial for all the convicted defendants -- except Parse, who the court ruled had "waived" his claim for a new trial since his attorneys knew or "with a modicum of diligence would have known" that Conrad's statements in jury selection were false and misleading and failed to disclose that knowledge to the court.

Judge Pauley felt that Parse's lawyers, the firm of Brune and Richard, knew or at least suspected (or alternatively should have known) that Conrad was an imposter certainly by the start of jury deliberations, but made a decision not to reveal their belief or suspicion to the court.  The court was apparently affected by what seems to be a carefully-crafted, literally true but arguably misleading, statement in the lawyers' new trial motion that they were "prompted" by disclosure of Conrad's post-verdict letter to investigate and conduct records searches "in the wake of Conrad's . . . post-verdict letter."  The court found that the motion contained "significant factual misstatements" and that its "clear implication" was to give the false impression that Parse's lawyers had no idea of Conrad's true identity until well after the verdict.  In fact, as demonstrated in a later letter from the firm, in the firm's e-mails during trial, which were ordered by the court to be produced, and in testimony by the lawyers at a hearing, the firm apparently had concerns about and suspicion of Conrad's deception, initially at voir dire and later, after further record search revelations, during the judge's charge to the jury.  A most graphic example was one lawyer's e-mail during the charge, "Jesus, I do think it's her."

The court believed that the attorneys' submission was designed to foreclose any government claim that their pre-verdict knowledge doomed their post-verdict motion on the grounds that they failed to act with "due diligence."  The court found unconvincing the attorneys' claim that notwithstanding the similarities between the juror and the suspended lawyer discovered by electronic research -- name, home town, father's occupation, approximate age -- and the juror's use of previously unmentioned legal terms (such as respondeat superior) in jury notes she authored, the attorneys did not believe until after her letter to the government was disclosed that juror Conrad and suspended lawyer Conrad were the same person.

The court thus found that Parse's attorneys had "actionable intelligence" that Conrad was an imposter and that they had been required, but failed, to undertake "swift action" to bring the matter to the court's attention.  The court apparently felt that the attorneys had attempted to "sandbag" it by remaining silent about the defect and only raising the issue when and if the trial did not conclude favorably, in effect providing them and their client with an "insurance policy against an unfavorable verdict."  By his attorneys' conduct, the court ruled, Parse waived any error.

It may well be that during the trial the attorneys chose not to report their suspicions because they felt that Conrad, who appeared from web research to be potentially anti-government, would be a favorable juror for the defense, and they did not want to lose her.  It may also be that, whatever the objective evidence that the juror and the suspended lawyer were one and the same might look like with hindsight, they actually thought that the juror and the suspended lawyer were different people since, as they claimed, they could not believe that the juror -- a lawyer -- would blatantly lie.  Under either alternative, the court found, they had an obligation to share their knowledge with the court.

Some may argue that an attorney, in her duty of zealous representation of a client, may remain silent if she learns during jury selection that a juror misrepresented herself.  Judge Pauley's contrary view is clear:  "An attorney's duty to inform the court about suggested juror misconduct trumps all other professional obligations, including those owed a client."  I agree.  See New York Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3(b).

Some may also question whether Parse, the client, should suffer from his lawyer's purported misconduct or lack of diligence (of which he had no apparent knowledge).  While generally a client is bound by a lawyer's strategic decision, and cannot cry foul if it backfires, Parse did suffer the same denial of a fair jury as the other defendants.  Nonetheless, the court held that his attorneys' failure to report waived any objection by Parse, but granted new trials to the other three convicted defendants (whose lawyers apparently had no knowledge of Conrad's deception).

There are several ironies in this case:  Parse, about whom, according to Conrad's letter to the prosecutors, the jurors "had qualms," is the only one whose conviction stands.  Further, his attorneys were the ones responsible for investigating and presenting the motions which succeeded in a new trial for the others (who joined the motion), but not for him.  And, lastly, if Conrad had told the truth at voir dire and revealed her suspension from the bar and her and her husband's criminal record, she undoubtedly would have been successfully challenged -- whether by cause or peremptory -- on the motion of the prosecution she so strongly favored, and not be the defense she despised.

 (goldman)

July 12, 2012 in Defense Counsel, Fraud, Judicial Opinions, Legal Ethics, Martha Stewart, Perjury, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Libor: The Regulatory Mind And the Prosecutorial Mind

The news that Barclays officials told the New York Fed in 2007 about potential problems with Libor highlights key differences between the regulatory mind and the prosecutorial mind. It also shows the difficulty in successfully prosecuting white collar fraud in the wake of regulatory incompetence.

When the typical federal prosecutor learns that a financial institution or corporation has lied, his instinct is to prove and charge a crime against the individuals responsible for the falsehood. Virtually any material lie in the context of publicly traded or federally insured entities constitutes a federal crime.

When a regulator learns that he has been lied to, the response is not necessarily the same. A famous example of this occurred during one of the SEC’s many examinations of Bernie Madoff’s shop. Madoff was caught flat out lying to SEC examiners. Did the scope of the examination expand? No. Were prosecutors immediately informed? No. Madoff was given a slap on the wrist. His massive Ponzi scheme continued for several years, claiming thousands of new victims.

While prosecuting S&L fraud twenty years ago, I was appalled to discover repeated instances in which the very fraud I was investigating had been contemporaneously revealed in some format to federal banking regulators and/or examiners who had often done nothing in response. This put putative defendants in the position of arguing that their frauds really weren’t frauds at all, because they had not deceived anyone. They argued that the regulators knew all about their conduct and failed to act, so: 1) it wasn’t deceptive conduct; and 2) they thought they had a green light going forward. Sometimes our targets and subjects were right. Sometimes they had only disclosed the tip of the iceberg.

By ignoring material financial falsehoods, the regulators and examiners allow frauds to continue and decrease the likelihood of future accountability through the criminal process.

But sophisticated fraudsters often reveal their conduct to regulators through a glass darkly. They are hoping that overworked regulators, with whom they are friendly, will miss, or misunderstand, the half-assed disclosures being made. The trick is to disclose just enough, but not too much. The typical regulator, unlike the typical prosecutor, does not distrust mankind or see a fraudster around every corner. The typical regulator has known the institution and executives he is currently monitoring for years. Often his ass has been kissed during that period in perfectly appropriate ways. He has been respected and deferred to. These intangibles, and his workload, may prevent him from noticing or following up on potential red flags.

We don’t have the full story yet on what the New York Fed knew about Barclay’s Libor problems, but the alacrity of the New York Fed’s acknowledgement that it knew something is striking. Timothy Geithner ran the New York Fed at the time, and we know that he has never met a wrist that couldn’t be slapped or a falsehood that couldn’t be excused.

The question remains—how can we bridge the regulatory/prosecutorial mental divide in order to punish real corporate fraud? Here is one answer—by training regulators and examiners to have zero tolerance for misleading or obstructionist behavior. The discovery of any lie or intentionally misleading conduct by a publicly traded or federally insured institution in any context should result in immediate fast-tracking to appropriate civil and/or criminal enforcement officials and/or federal prosecutorial authorities. This does not mean that prosecution should automatically or even usually ensue. It does mean that individuals who actually know something about fraud can take a critical and timely look at red flag behavior.

Once this process is in place, it may create a business climate in which elite corporate and financial institutions, and their officers, directors, and employees, will know that lying in any form will not be tolerated. The success of such a structure depends on the DOJ green-lighting prosecutors fearless enough to investigate and charge the flesh and blood financial elites who commit fraud. Almost every indication to date (outside of the insider trading context) is that current DOJ leadership is not up to the task.

(wisenberg)

July 11, 2012 in Civil Enforcement, Current Affairs, Fraud, Insider Trading, Investigations, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cartels, Corporate Compliance and What Practitioners Really Think About Enforcement.

Check out Daniel D. Sokol's new article titled, Cartels, Corporate Compliance and What Practitioners Really Think About Enforcement available here and to be appearing in the Antitrust L.J.

The SSRN abstract states:

This article shows the limitations to the optimal deterrence-inspired cartel enforcement policy currently used by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. This article employs both quantitative and qualitative survey evidence of cartel practitioners to shed light upon the realities of US cartel enforcement policy. The empirical evidence provided by the practitioner surveys challenges the traditional assumptions behind the success of the DOJ’s cartel program. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that firms regularly game the leniency program to punish their competitors. For various reasons, firms and the DOJ have strong incentives to settle rather than to litigate cases in which the legality of cartel conduct may be in doubt. The surveys also expose limitations to the optimal deterrence framework for firms and individuals regarding incentives and behavior. These findings suggest the need for an enforcement focus on sub-units within the firm as well as various processes to change behavior that would improve enforcement and deterrence. Finally, the surveys suggest certain structural limitations in organizational behavior within firms that have prevented antitrust compliance programs from becoming embedded in a way that would reduce cartel activity. Additionally, this article provides an analysis of media coverage of cartel enforcement from 1990-2009. The analysis suggests that successful enforcement has not created sufficient awareness of cartel behavior among the public. Relative to other types of financial crimes, such as accounting fraud, the public seems unaware or uninterested in cartel activity. The conclusion summarizes the article’s findings and outlines potential future steps in cartel research."

(esp)

July 6, 2012 in Antitrust, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Commentary on GlaxoSmithKline Settlement - The Government Push is Definitely on Health Care Fraud

This $3 billion settlement between GlaxoSmithKline and the government is the largest settlement in the health care fraud arena.   But DOJ's focus on health care fraud is not limited to this one case.According to TRAC reports here for "FY 2011 the government reported 1,235 new health care fraud prosecutions."  This is particularly noteworthy because it demonstrates a number that is "up 68.9% over the past fiscal year when the number of criminal prosecutions totaled 731" in the health care fraud area. If one looks at the percentage change from 5 years ago, it is up 134%, from ten years ago 95.7% and 20 years ago 740%.  This increase in prosecution of health care fraud is incredible.   And the place showing the highest amount of fraud is in the Southern District of Florida.

The government took some wrong turns initially in the GlaxoSmithKline case when they proceeded against the former VP and Associate General Counsel of the company. Lauren Stevens had been initially charged with a 6-count Indictment for the alleged crimes of obstruction (1512), falsification and concealment of documents (1519) and false statements (1001). The case was dismissed here with all kinds of revelations  (like what co-blogger Sol Wisenberg noted on June 2011 - how the Maryland US Attorney refused to sign the indictment here).  See also David Stout, Main Justice, Lauren Stevens: A Case the DOJ Would probably Like to ForgetTo me it seemed like an indictment of a possible discovery violation, if that, by none other then the DOJ, who had its share of discovery violations in failing to provide Brady material in cases like the Ted Stevens case.

But this latest settlement with the company is an important step forward in saying that the current administration is concerned not only about providing health care to all, but also in not allowing companies to commit fraudulent acts. The GlaxoSmithKline website has its 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report on its front page here and a statement here, which includes a statement from CEO Sir Andrew Witty saying "[o]n behalf of GSK, I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learnt from the mistakes that were made." 

White collar cases can take many years to resolve and many, such as whistleblowers (see here & here), may have difficult times in the process of waiting.  But it is important to congratulate the DOJ on not going for a quick "short-cut" resolution here and instead taking the time, energy, and money, to investigate a company on multiple levels.  Resolving it also is a strong cost-saving measure. 

(esp)(with disclosure that she received her B.S. from Syracuse - the home of TRAC).

July 3, 2012 in Fraud, Settlement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 2, 2012

GlaxoSmithKline Plea - Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement