May 22, 2019 Substantive Law

Treasury Enforcement Actions: Civil Enforcement with Criminal Consequences

By Matthew Graves and Brian Young

Reprinted with permission from Business Law Today, April 2019. ©2019 by the American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

Indictments are often viewed as a death knell for a publicly traded company. As a result, whenever a government investigation involves a potential criminal penalty, obtaining a civil or administrative resolution in lieu of a criminal resolution is typically viewed as a favorable outcome for the company. Fares v. Smith[1] highlights that civil administrative actions by components of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) can be as devastating for a company as a criminal indictment. Moreover, although an indictment at least requires a grand jury to find that probable cause exists to support criminal charges, Treasury can immediately act without an independent review, and any after-the-fact judicial review of Treasury’s determinations is severely limited.

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