On October 22, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, who oversees DOJ’s Civil Division, spoke at the 16th Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress and Best Practices Forum in Washington, D.C. In addressing “current law enforcement efforts that may bear on what the future holds,” Mizer led off with the recent memo by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on individual accountability. Mizer’s remarks complement those by the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division, Leslie R. Caldwell, last month. For our previous discussions on the memo and Caldwell's prior remarks click here and here.
Mizer emphasized a few points from the Yates memo, beginning with the one that has been most discussed: in order to qualify for cooperation credit, a corporation must identify all individuals involved in the wrongdoing and provide all relevant evidence implicating those individuals to the government. As Mizer bluntly stated, “this means no partial credit for cooperation that doesn’t include information about individuals.” He also stressed that the requirement applies to not only criminal but civil investigations, including False Claims Act investigations. Mizer called particular attention to the fact that “in order to qualify for the reduced multiples provision under the False Claims Act, the organization must voluntarily identify any culpable individuals and provide all material facts about those individuals.”
Mizer made two other points following on the Yates memo: both DOJ’s Criminal and Civil Divisions will focus on individuals from the outset of their investigations and DOJ criminal and civil attorneys “have been directed to cooperate to the fullest extent permitted by law at all stages of an investigation.” The latter is a point that Caldwell made early in her tenure overseeing the Criminal Division at the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund Conference. It was at that September 2014 conference that Caldwell announced a new procedure whereby qui tam complaints would be shared by the Civil Division with the Criminal Division as soon as the cases were filed and that attorneys in the Frauds Section of the Criminal Division would immediately review them to determine whether a parallel criminal case should be brought.
The public debate about the Yates memo has centered on whether it really says anything new. In apparent recognition of this debate, Mizer said the memo was issued “to reinforce the department’s commitment” to pursuing not just corporations but the individuals who caused the misconduct to occur and that it shows the “renewed commitment” to pursuing not just corporations but the culpable individuals. Mizer may be foreshadowing that results of this Criminal/Civil Division cooperation are on the horizon.