DOJ signaled once again their view that compliance programs must be adequately resourced and "empowered" with visibility and access to key information, and underscored its commitment to requiring company leadership to certify, at the end of a monitoring period, that their compliance program is effective.
This approach was first previewed in March by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, head of the criminal division. A $1.1 billion FCPA settlement announced last month included a requirement that the CEO and compliance chiefs certify that their compliance program has been reasonably designed to prevent future violations. And this week, Lauren Kootman, Assistant Chief in the Corporate Enforcement, Compliance, and Policy Unit of DOJ's fraud section, reiterated DOJ's focus on certifications and implied that "most likely...every" resolution will require a similar certification.
DOJ's hope appears to be that such certifications will serve to empower compliance officials to obtain the resources and access needed to operate an effective compliance program. However, fears remain that such certifications could subject compliance officers to civil or criminal penalties if the program later turns out to be flawed. Companies and compliance officials should pay close attention to these developments as DOJ touts its aggressive new approach to fraud enforcement.