The June 22 announcement of federal charges against 301 medical professionals accused of more than $900 million in fraudulent billing is a significant indication that the government is serious about increasing its pursuit of health care fraud indictments.
The roles of today’s corporate compliance officer are varied and many. Among other things, corporate compliance officers design or implement internal controls, develop policies and procedures to ensure compliance with numerous laws and establish employee ethics training programs. In addition, most compliance officers find themselves conducting internal investigations based upon complaints, some of which are anonymous. When faced with an anonymous complaint, one might initially think, “It’s an anonymous complaint, why not just ignore it?”
DOJ “Yates Memo” and release of 20-year study of white collar prosecutions suggest major changes in the way white collar crime is prosecuted and defended.
Two separate news items, each released on Sept. 10, 2015, are well worth noting by all practitioners of white collar criminal defense, general counsel for corporations, business executives and employees and, indeed, the general public.
The first news item, which has received the most media attention, is the new Department of Justice memo titled, “Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing.” The memo, authored by Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates and addressed to all of the divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice as well as every U.S. Attorney in the nation, has received a great deal of media coverage (e.g., a front page article in the New York Times). The Yates Memo, as it will no doubt be known, seeks to do nothing less than redirect all federal prosecutors, civil and criminal, to focus their efforts to an unprecedented degree on individual corporate executives and employees.
Nearly every day in nearly every city in the United States, businesses and individual citizens are unexpectedly visited by some government agent, and we don’t mean mail carriers. These are local, state or federal agents, inspectors or investigators. They may be special agents for state and federal agencies such as Departments of Revenue, Environmental Protection Agencies or even law enforcement, like the FBI. They may be from agencies like OSHA, the SEC, or the Department of Labor. They may even be from one of the multitude of local, state or federal inspectors general offices, many of which have broad investigatory authority. Whatever their particular title or agency, they are all government agents, and most, if not all, have agreements, formal and informal, to share information and cooperate with each other’s investigations. So what you might say to one agency may as well be said to all of them.
The crucial question is: What do you or your employees do when these government agents appear? How you respond to the visit may have profound consequences, good or bad, for you or your business.