Several new, highly publicized fraud enforcement initiatives of the U.S. Department of Justice are likely to impact the roles of the general counsel and chief compliance officer. In most organizations, there are elements of overlap in how these officers relate to the compliance program structure and the conduct of internal investigations. In the context of these new initiatives, however, absolute clarity on executive-level leadership is necessary in order to ensure an effective and coordinated organizational response. The governing board, with its obligations for legal compliance oversight, will in most instances conclude that the general counsel is best qualified to lead that response.
Health care leaders should closely note the new guidelines on corporate conduct released on September 9, 2015 by the Department of Justice (DOJ). These Guidelines reflect a substantially increased focus on individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing, both civil and criminal, and on the importance of corporate cooperation in the context of governmental investigations. It is not a “rifle shot” enforcement initiative focused solely on Wall Street or the broader financial sector. Rather, it is intended to apply across industry sectors (including, health care). The Guidelines can reasonably be expected to impact an organization’s approach to legal compliance, internal investigations, D&O insurance and indemnification protection, and interaction with management on matters of regulatory concern. They should, therefore, be taken seriously by senior leadership of health care companies.
Health care general counsel should advise their clients on the implications of the new guidelines on corporate conduct recently released by the Department of Justice (DOJ). These guidelines demonstrate a substantially increased government focus on individual accountability for corporate misconduct, and on corporate eligibility for cooperation credit in the context of government investigations.
“Fighting corporate fraud and other misconduct is a top priority ofthe Department of Justice. Our nation’s economy depends on effective enforcement of the civil and criminal laws that protect our financial system and, by extension, all our citizens. These are principles that the Department lives and breathes- as evidenced by the many attorneys, agents, and support staff who have worked tirelessly on corporate investigations, particularly in the aftermath ofthe financial crisis.”