Q&A with DOJ Fraud Chief Andrew Weissmann

Q&A with DOJ Fraud Chief Andrew Weissmann

Share this post

January 26, 2016

Today’s blog post is an interview with Andrew Weissmann, Chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section at the DOJ. Mr. Weissmann has had a long career in public service. He served as the General Counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2011 to 2013. Mr. Weissmann previously served as special counsel to Director Mueller in 2005, after which he was a partner at Jenner & Block LLP in New York City. From 2002-2005, he served as the Deputy and then the Director of the Enron Task Force in Washington, D.C., where he supervised the prosecution of more than 30 individuals in connection with the company’s collapse. He was a federal prosecutor for 15 years in the Eastern District of New York, where he served as the Chief of the Criminal Division.


TT: First of all, congratulations on your appointment as Chief of the DOJ’s Fraud Section, which was announced almost exactly a year ago. What has surprised you most in this position since you officially stepped into the role?

AW: Thank you, it’s been just about 10 months since I started in this position and there are two things that have surprised me. First, the size and nature of the matters that we deal with in the Fraud Section. The typical case we handle is a large, international investigation of a complex nature that often involves relationship-building with international counterparts and complicated negotiations. Second, the level of sophistication of attorneys on the team, who are smart and dedicated people and with whom I am delighted to work. 

TT: Our readers are closely watching developments in the US-EU Safe Harbor Agreement negotiations. How does the recent invalidation of the agreement affect enforcement of international FCPA cases?

AW: In the context of voluntary cooperation, companies should be looking at what is legally required in terms of data privacy. I cannot recall a situation where a company that was seeking cooperation credit was unable to produce the necessary information because of foreign data privacy laws. In other words, we expect that companies choosing to cooperate understand what is legally required of them and can work to find a legally sound solution. We understand that it is not always easy; however, a company will not receive cooperation credit where it is simply using data privacy laws as a shield to avoid providing evidence.

TT: Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell announced in November that the FCPA Unit was planning to increase its capacity by hiring 10 additional prosecutors – where will the efforts of these additional lawyers be focused?

AW: That’s correct, in addition to the 19 line attorneys currently working in the FCPA Unit, we are adding 10 more, as well as 5 supervisors. These additional resources will help us enhance the “stick” side of the carrot and stick approach we use in the Fraud Section. The focus will be on companies that do not self-disclose, and on parts of the world where there is a sense of “practical immunity” due to common misperceptions that investigations are unlikely to take place there. Also, as we don’t just rely on self-disclosures, we need additional resources to follow other various leads, such as referrals from international enforcement agencies and governments, statements made by whistleblowers, and results of paper trails.

TT: How can you explain the relative dearth of FCPA prosecutions in 2015 when compared with previous years?

AW: I would say that 1 year isn’t long enough to tell the whole story. If we just wait three months, it might be a very different picture. The other part of the answer is that we are prosecuting more individuals. This focus on individuals adds a lot of complexity to our investigations and makes for a more time consuming process overall. And on top of that, we have a very high number of open investigations. The volume of matters per attorney was one reason I made the pitch for more resources.

TT: When the Yates Memo was released in September last year, there were many concerns raised by companies, such as timing of self-disclosure, scope of investigation, and, even, constitutional issues relating to privilege and corporate decision making. How would you recommend companies, and particularly compliance professionals, approach this issue, especially when it may involve having to bring forward top executives? 

AW: I think it’s important not to overreact – the investigation of suspected individual misconduct has always been a priority of federal prosecutors, so in that sense the issues being raised have existed both before and after the Yates Memo. The Memo clarifies that if a company wants to receive any cooperation credit, it must identify culpable individuals and provide all relevant facts relating to these individuals to the DOJ. In other words, providing this information is not just a factor, but a prerequisite for receiving cooperation credit.

TT: What has been the effect of the Yates Memo so far – have you seen a chilling effect on self-reporting or cooperation?

AW: It is too soon to tell. We’ll have to wait until we have a bigger sample to see if there are any trends.

TT: Do you have plans to update the 2012 Resource Guide?

AW: Yes, we are actually looking into it right now. There have been some clarifications and new issues since the last edition that would be important to include in the updated version.

TT: And finally, what are three things you would like to focus on in 2016?

AW: First, we plan to create a corporate strike force. It is important for us to make it clear to everyone that no industry is too big to fail or too important to be prosecuted. Second, in the FCPA Unit we’ll continue to focus on the carrot and stick approach by emphasizing the benefits of self-disclosure and cooperation with federal investigators. Finally, in the Securities and Financial Fraud Unit, we have important investigations to pursue, most prominently the VW and Takata cases.

For more on this topic, please see the following resources:

FCPA Year-in-Review 2015
What the Burning of the Safe Harbor Bridge Means for Due Diligence Efforts
5 Key Trends in Global Anti-Bribery Enforcement

Gray Mail IconClick here to subscribe to TRACE Trends: A Compliance Conversation and receive email notifications as new posts are published.

Why Companies Need to Go Beyond the Corruption Perceptions Index
The Cascade Effect
Justina Song Q&A with DOJ Fraud Chief Andrew Weissmann

Comments

Leave a Reply

Leave this field empty:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



    Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to start the second panel this morning of the Council on Foreign Relations workshop on the intersection of corruption and U.S. national interests. Today I will be leading the second panel, which is going to deal...
    Recent News Feed 4/6/2017 Read More
    Last week, TRACE held its 13th Forum at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C. Over 100 member companies contributed to a lively and extended exchange of best practices across the two-day event.
    Interestingly, for the first time, men and women were represented in...
    Recent News Feed 4/4/2017 Read More
    After years of struggling with excess capacity and tight profit margins, the breakbulk industry facesa tough competitive climate. In these circumstances, one needs to be careful about any temptation to cut corners. Given the industry’s global characterand high degree...
    Recent News Feed 4/3/2017 Read More
    US government officials have said that when assessing company culture as part of an FCPA investigation, they are looking for much more than just “tone at the top.”
    To read the full article, click here.
    Recent News Feed 3/30/2017 Read More
    A current trend in compliance training is gamification, or adding gaming elements to training modules, to encourage learning and engagement. You don’t have to overhaul your entire training program in order to participate in this trend. Below are three ways to...
    Recent News Feed 3/29/2017 Read More
    On March 7 and 8, General Dynamics, joined by TRACE International and the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, found 150 participants eager to hear about business ethics in Romania, which has been swept by anti-corruption protests in recent months.
    To read the...
    Recent News Feed 3/28/2017 Read More
    A nova “lista do Janot”, derivada das delações premiadas dos executivos da Odebrecht, além de deixar os políticos com as barbas de molho, também deve reforçar uma recente distinção adquirida pelo Brasil: a...
    Recent News Feed 3/23/2017 Read More
    Foreign companies should always maintain close contacts with their local embassies should they need assistance in avoiding extortionate demands. Trade commissions, chambers of commerce and local business councils also may offer support in this domain.
    To read the full...
    Recent News Feed 3/23/2017 Read More
    It is a formula as old as business itself – the bribe, the backhander that greases the wheels of commerce. Rolls-Royce has recently learned to its great cost, however, that nowadays it is also a ticket to massive fines and reputational damage.
    As Brexit...
    Recent News Feed 3/21/2017 Read More
    Corruption-based allegations can be crippling for any company. Compliance in this area of the law is of particular importance to companies who regularly use international consultants and sales representatives, commonly referred to as “intermediaries,” to develop...
    Recent News Feed 3/15/2017 Read More
    These dinner dates aren’t like handing over briefcases filled with money. But it’s an issue, Wrage says, that keeps executives up at night worrying about the consequences of possible wrongdoing.
    How times have changed since November 2001, when Wrage founded...
    Recent News Feed 3/15/2017 Read More
    Anti-bribery enforcement actions increased dramatically on a global scale over the past year, with the extractive industry facing the brunt of that activity.
    Those are just a couple of findings from the 2016 Global Enforcement Report (GER) conducted by anti-bribery...
    Recent News Feed 3/14/2017 Read More
    Heydar Aliyev Prospekti, a broad avenue in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, connects the airport to the city. The road is meant to highlight Baku’s recent modernization, and it is lined with sleek new buildings. The Heydar Aliyev Center, an undulating wave of concrete...
    Recent News Feed 3/13/2017 Read More
    The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is the jewel in the crown of America’s fight against international business bribes and corporate favors. Intended to promote American business and foreign-policy ideals around the world, and give US companies a tool to battle...
    Recent News Feed 3/13/2017 Read More
    Frauen spielen an der Spitze von Sportorganisationen allenfalls eine kleine Rolle. Dabei würde ihre Präsenz den Verbänden mehr als gut tun, sagt Alexandra Wrage von Trace International. Allerdings aus anderen Gründen als man denkt.
    To read the full...
    Recent News Feed 3/7/2017 Read More
    TRACE International has published its latest review of global anti-corruption enforcement, touting a dramatic increase in enforcement last year, led by U.S. authorities.
    Enforcement activity essentially doubled last year, according to the organization’s annual...
    Recent News Feed 3/3/2017 Read More
    Known as an attractive manufacturing hub for labour-intensive and less capital-intensive industries, Vietnam provides trade and investment opportunities for Canadian companies in several sectors including aerospace, agriculture and agri-food, construction and...
    Recent News Feed 3/2/2017 Read More
    Donald Trump has reiterated his promise to reform banking regulation in a meeting with 50 business leaders in Washington this week.Trump told a room of top execs that he still plans to go ahead with overhauling Dodd-Frank – the act brought into existence during the...
    Recent News Feed 3/2/2017 Read More
    Global enforcement actions from bribery charges increased dramatically last year, according to a report released today by TRACE International, an anti-bribery organization.
    To read the full article, click here.
    Recent News Feed 3/2/2017 Read More
    The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office is reluctant to provide information to investigators in […]
    To read the full article, click here.
    Recent News Feed 3/2/2017 Read More
    A new report by TRACE International finds that enforcement actions against bribing government officials are rising globally. In its 2016 Global Enforcement Report, the anti-bribery organization observes a doubling in US enforcements last year and non-US actions doubled...
    Recent News Feed 3/2/2017 Read More
    TRACE’s annualGlobal Enforcement Report(GER) provides graphic and textual analyses of all known enforcement events (including investigations as well as enforcement actions*) since the first bribery cases were prosecuted in the United States following the enactment of...
    Recent News Feed 3/2/2017 Read More
    There was a sharp rise in both US and non-US foreign bribery enforcement actions in 2016, according to a newly released report by Trace International.
    To read the full article, click here.
    Recent News Feed 3/2/2017 Read More