The Evolving “Yates” Memo—The Department of Justice Revises its Policies on Individual Accountability and Corporate Enforcement

In White Collar by Jason B. FreemanLeave a Comment

The Justice Department recently announced revisions to the so-called “Yates” memo.  The revisions, announced by Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, represent significant changes to the Department’s white-collar enforcement policies and impact the Justice Manual’s policies with respect to corporate enforcement and individual accountability.


The Yates memo, originally issued September 9, 2015, set forth DOJ policies with respect to individual accountability and corporate credit for cooperation with DOJ investigations.  The Yates memo set forth a policy that “[t]o be eligible for any cooperation credit, corporations must provide to the Department all relevant facts about the individuals involved in corporate misconduct.” The policy under the Yates memo presented a somewhat “binary choice” with respect to corporate credit – full credit or no credit.

Under the Department’s revised policy, “any company seeking cooperation credit in criminal cases must identify every individual who was substantially involved in or responsible for the criminal conduct.” This shift, according to Rosenstein, recognizes real-world restraints on investigative resources and is designed to move toward a more efficient and effective approach to corporate investigations.

According to Rosenstein, “[u]nder [the Department’s] revised policy, pursuing individuals responsible for wrongdoing will be a top priority in every corporate investigation.” The revised policy provides that companies may be eligible for cooperation credit in criminal cases if they identify every individual who was substantially involved in or responsible for the criminal conduct.

The revised policy announces a further change in the Department’s approach to civil cases.  Cooperation credit in civil cases is no longer an “all or nothing” question.  The revised policy restores discretion to Department attorneys to allow flexibility to accept settlements that remedy harms and deter future violations.  The policy provides Department attorneys with the ability to grant partial credit where a company “meaningfully assist[s] the government’s investigation.”


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Freeman Law represents companies, executives, and individuals in regulatory and white-collar government investigations and prosecutions. Freeman Law has experience representing clients against a broad range of allegations and investigations, including tax fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, Bank Secrecy Act, seizures and forfeitures, securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, computer intrusion, health care fraud, FCPA, conspiracy, and other financial crimes.

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