The New York Times.
“Corporations can only commit crimes through flesh-and-blood people,” Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general and the author of the memo, told the Times. “It’s only fair that the people who are responsible for committing those crimes be held accountable. The public needs to have confidence that there is one system of justice and it applies equally regardless of whether that crime occurs on a street corner or in a boardroom.”
According to The New York Times, which was furnished with a copy of the memo, investigators are being advised to focus on individual employees in the beginning of a prosecution. Cooperating could save companies billions in fines and could mean the difference between a civil settlement and a criminal charge.
The new rules are the first major policy announcement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who took office in April of this year.
And while many will revel in the fact that those big bank bigwigs at the centres of the economic crisis may finally be held accountable, the initiative has its sceptics.
“It’s a good memo, but it states what should have been the policy for years,” Brandon L. Garrett, a University of Virginia law professor and the author of the book “Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise With Corporations,” told the times. “And without more resources, how are prosecutors going to know whether companies are still burying information about their employees?”
Yates did note, however, that the goal is to target high ranking employees, and not be used to potentially prosecute lower-level scapegoats.
“We’re not going to be accepting a company’s cooperation when they just offer up the vice president in charge of going to jail,” she told the Times.
New rules, which state that individuals – and not just corporations – should be prosecuted, were sent in a memo to federal prosecutors across the country, according to