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Antitrust Division of US Department of Justice announces new policy to incentivize corporate compliance

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to recognize the efforts companies make in insuring compliance values by regarding them not as targets, but as partners in antitrust issues. This course of action now taken shows the efforts of the DOJ to acknowledge that not (only) the companies themselves can be the ones at the center of an antitrust matter, but that there also exist employees who victimize their own company.

From 2015 on, under then-Deputy Attorney General Yates and according policy decisions, companies have been encouraged to cooperate with the DOJ regarding the prosecution of reprobate executives and rewarded for such aid with cooperation credit. In 2016, a system made permanent from 2017 on has been put in place, offering companies accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act who cooperated in fixing their issues the reward of dropping of the prosecution in those matters.

From July 2019 on, agency antitrust head Makan Delrahim has stated that this policy – until now only applied to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations – will also be applied to antitrust issues. Companies are to be encouraged in building strong compliance networks on the inside, so that liable employees may be prosecuted without compromising the companies themselves. This means that companies cooperating with good faith with the DOJ in antitrust issues shall be rewarded by getting off scot-free. On a long-term-basis, this also benefits the DOJ that ought to act as a crime-fighting agency, and not as a crime-charging agency.

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