DOJ Reinforces Importance of Early and Material Cooperation In Post-Yates World

In a speech on Tuesday, September 27, 2016, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer said that in the post-Yates world companies must provide early and material assistance to DOJ’s efforts to hold companies and individuals accountable for corporate wrongdoing – including by voluntarily disclosing information before they receive a subpoena – if they hope to receive cooperation credit.  In doing so, Baer called out those banks caught up in DOJ’s enforcement focus on mortgage-backed securities.  Baer claims those companies did not cooperate early enough and that DOJ thus rejected their requests for substantial cooperation credit, ultimately extracting billions of dollars in settlements.  Baer thus made clear the importance of early cooperation:  “little or no cooperation credit will be afforded in situations where the supposed cooperation occurs after the department has completed the bulk of its investigation.”  In addition to cooperating early, companies also must provide specific information about any and all employees involved in wrongdoing and information that is unknown to DOJ and materially assists its investigation in order to obtain meaningful cooperation credit.  At the same time, Baer described conduct that will not qualify a company for cooperation credit; specifically, simply producing information in response to a subpoena or CID and making a presentation to DOJ that seeks to limit or eliminate liability will not be viewed as cooperation.  Indeed, Baer’s speech raises questions as to whether legitimate efforts to defend conduct under investigation may even disqualify a company that otherwise has been cooperative from receiving cooperation credit.

Baer’s speech can be accessed here.