If you are a multi-million dollar company and receive a subpoena for your documents and records, you simply send it to the legal department. But what if you are a smaller healthcare provider? Responding to a government subpoena can be daunting, especially if it is your first one, and you may not have the personnel or resources to respond without a significant disruption to your business. Does the subpoena mean you or your company is about to be charged with a crime? Do you have to submit original records? Will the government insist on the production of all documents within the often broadly worded scope of a subpoena? How do you deal with electronic information on your computer system? How do you protect patient confidentiality? Will your insurance help with the costs of complying with the subpoena? What can you do to ensure the company is prepared ahead of time?
Step One: Issue a Document Hold Notice and Consult Counsel
The first thing you should do when you receive a government subpoena is issue a written notice to your employees to protect and maintain any documents and records that may be encompassed by the subpoena. As part of that process, you will also need to suspend any records destruction practices that you currently have in place. The failure to produce or preserve potentially relevant documents and information can result in significant exposure. Courts have regularly penalized companies and individuals who fail to produce or preserve potentially relevant materials. It is important to send the notice out as soon as possible and to thoroughly document its distribution. You should also simultaneously consult with counsel to review the subpoena and ensure that you are taking all necessary steps to preserve information. Continue reading “We Just Received a Government Subpoena. Now What?”
This is the scenario: you are an executive or manager at a government contractor. It’s Friday morning. You are hoping to leave early and get a jump on the weekend. Then, the receptionist buzzes you and says, “There are men and women out here wearing FBI windbreakers and they want to execute a search warrant.” You wonder, “Can I tell the agents they cannot come in?” Your company does not have in-house counsel. You can call your attorney, but his or her office is across town and the FBI agents say they are not going to wait. “What should I do?”
This may sound like an unlikely scenario, but such government investigations happen all of the time around the country and are rarely expected. In recent years, prosecutors and agents from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Inspector General Offices have brought charges of procurement fraud and corruption against over 100 defendants, including officers and employees of companies of all sizes. In September 2014, DOJ’s Criminal Division announced that it would be “stepping up” its investigation and prosecution of criminal violations of the False Claims Act, using a team of senior federal prosecutors dedicated exclusively to procurement fraud. DOJ’s announcement cited the use of search warrants as one of the significant investigative tools at prosecutors’ disposal. In addition to their increased exposure to law enforcement authorities, small businesses should expect greater scrutiny of their contracting dollars, an initiative that has received bipartisan support in Congress. In March, the House Small Business Committee approved a measure calling for a sweeping examination into abuses in small business contracting, and the Small Business Administration recently proposed a rule for harsher penalties relating to small business subcontracting limitations. Continue reading “Responding to a Warrant—What to Do if Your Company Is Subject to a Fraud Investigation”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) jointly issued a new guidance entitled “A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” Although the 130-page guidance does not break any significant new ground, and generally reiterates positions that the government has previously taken in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) litigation and settlements, the document does provide useful information to companies regarding compliance with, and government enforcement of, the FCPA.
For example, the guidance identifies nine factors that the government considers in conducting an investigation, determining whether to charge a corporation, and negotiating plea or other agreements: (1) the nature and seriousness of the offense, including the risk of harm to the public; (2) the pervasiveness of wrongdoing within the corporation, including the complicity in, or the condoning of, the wrongdoing by corporate management; (3) the corporation’s history of similar misconduct, including prior criminal, civil, and regulatory enforcement actions against it; (4) the corporation’s timely and voluntary disclosure of wrongdoing and its willingness to cooperate in the investigation of its agents; (5) the existence and effectiveness of the corporation’s preexisting compliance program; (6) the corporation’s remedial actions, including any efforts to implement an effective corporate compliance program or improve an existing one, replace responsible management, discipline or terminate wrongdoers, pay restitution, and cooperate with the relevant government agencies; (7) collateral consequences, including whether there is disproportionate harm to shareholders, pension holders, employees, and others not proven personally culpable, as well as impact on the public arising from the prosecution; (8) the adequacy of the prosecution of individuals responsible for the corporation’s malfeasance; and (9) the adequacy of remedies such as civil or regulatory enforcement actions. The guidance also includes a number of hypotheticals and case studies that are helpful in suggesting the types of conduct and compliance practices that are more or less likely to lead to government enforcement actions or declination of charges. Continue reading “DOJ and SEC Issue Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Guidance”
On November 8, 2011, Assistant Attorney General Breuer promised in a speech to the 26th National Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) that in 2012 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) would provide “detailed new guidance on the [FCPA’s] criminal and civil enforcement provisions.” More than 30 trade associations led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have requested that this promised guidance address several issues and questions summarized below in order to mitigate significant interpretative challenges faced by businesses seeking to comply in good faith with the FCPA. “[I]n order to avoid conflicting interpretations and ensure a uniform policy,” the letter suggests that the guidance be issued by both the DOJ and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and that it apply to both criminal and civil enforcement.
Definitions of “Foreign Official” and “Instrumentality”
The trade associations’ letter requests that the DOJ and the SEC provide “a clear, uniform definition” of “foreign official” and “instrumentality.” The letter stresses that the courts’ highly fact-dependent and discretionary approach to these terms, particularly in markets where many companies are at least partially state-owned, “engenders tremendous uncertainty and risks serious misallocation of resources by U.S. businesses seeking to sell their goods and services in foreign markets.” In response, the letter suggests that the forthcoming guidance address at least the following: (1) the percentage ownership or level of control by a foreign government that ordinarily will qualify a corporation as an “instrumentality;” (2) clarification that an “instrumentality” must perform government or quasi-governmental functions and a detailed list of what those functions may include; and (3) exceptions, if any, to the foregoing general principles. Continue reading “Trade Associations Request that Justice Department and SEC Clarify Criminal and Civil FCPA Enforcement”