The Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (“Division”) now considers a company’s compliance program at the charging and sentencing stages in a criminal antitrust investigation. The Division incorporated these changes into the Justice Manual. The Division also published a guide for evaluating compliance programs under this new approach.
Prior Division Approach to Investigations
While an effective compliance program has become a factor of corporate criminal enforcement generally, the Division’s approach to criminal antitrust investigations remained unchanged since the early 1990s. The Division’s long-standing policy would not give credit to a company for its compliance program at the charging or sentencing stages of a criminal antitrust investigation.
Announcing the Change
On July 11, 2019, Assistant Attorney General (“AAG”) Makan Delrahim announced that the time has come for the Division to recognize the efforts of companies to implement and invest significantly in robust compliance programs. Therefore, AAG Delrahim said, the Division will “(1) change its approach to crediting compliance at the charging stage; (2) clarify its approach to evaluating the effectiveness of compliance programs at the sentencing stage; and (3) for the first time, make public a guidance document for the evaluation of compliance programs in criminal antitrust investigations.”