October 01, 2015

DOJ Stresses Individual Accountability in New “Yates Memo”

Catherine Greaves, King & Spalding, Austin, TX

“Americans should never believe, even incorrectly, that one’s criminal activity will go unpunished simply because it was committed on behalf of a corporation.”1 This was the pronouncement made by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (DAG Yates) a day after she issued new guidance to Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys outlining the importance of individual accountability in DOJ prosecutions. The new guidelines, issued September 9, 2015 and referred to informally as the “Yates Memo,” articulated several changes to DOJ policy, particularly regarding the definition of cooperation credit for corporations.2 These changes are applicable to criminal as well as civil enforcement matters and will be applied to both future investigations and pending matters, to the extent practicable. While this shift in policy appears to be a response to repeated criticism that too many individuals evaded punishment for wrongdoing related to the financial crisis and a related push to improve integrity within the banking sector, it will have significant implications for healthcare providers and their employees.3

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