DOJ Rethinks Corporate Cooperation, Urges Timely, Full Data on Exec Crimes

Stay current on changes and developments in corporate law with a wide variety of resources and tools.

By Yin Wilczek

Jan. 20 — The Justice Department is reshaping the “conversation about corporate cooperation” and scrutinizing companies that “purport to cooperate” but fail to timely provide facts and evidence about executives who may be engaged in criminal conduct, a senior official said Jan. 20.

Voluntary self-disclosure of wrongdoing and the identification of culpable executives do not constitute “true cooperation,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sung-Hee Suh, from the DOJ's Criminal Division. That term requires companies to locate and provide timely and full information about the crimes committed by their executives, she said.

In other comments, Suh said the department's priorities include combatting corruption, cyber crime and financial fraud. She spoke at the Practising Law Institute's “Securities Regulation in Europe” conference in London.

Oft-Repeated Message 

Senior DOJ officials repeatedly have urged companies to cooperate with the department's investigations, saying that they will see real and tangible benefits in terms of lower fines or fewer charges if they do so. 

However, attorneys told Bloomberg BNA that in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act context, the increasing complexity of globalization may be discouraging some companies from voluntarily coming forward.

In her speech, Suh provided several examples in which companies were credited for aiding the DOJ. For example, she contrasted the FCPA actions against Alstom SA and PetroTiger Ltd. Alstom, which declined to cooperate with the DOJ “from the outset,” agreed in December to pay a record $772 million to the DOJ. However, no charges were filed against PetroTiger, which voluntarily self-reported its FCPA misconduct and cooperated in the DOJ's investigation, Suh said.

Suh also warned that the DOJ is not relying “exclusively” on corporate cooperation to make the case against individual wrongdoers. Among other measures, the DOJ is collaborating more with its foreign counterparts and using more sophisticated tools in a “variety of areas,” she said.

Just as it is coordinating its investigations with foreign authorities, the DOJ also is “willing to coordinate” its resolutions, “including accounting for the corporate monetary penalties paid in other jurisdictions when appropriate,” she added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at

Text of the speech is available at


Request Corporate on Bloomberg Law