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 *



    ‘On balance, the public interest in transparency far outweighs the rights of those hiding, for whatever reasons, behind secret or shell companies.’ TRACE President Alexandra Wrage discusses a reasoned response to the Panama Papers on the SCCE Compliance and...
    Recent News Feed 4/27/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    ‘The lifting of sanctions creates opportunities for the maritime industry, but compliance and due diligence challenges linger for vessel owners and operators seeking to trade their vessels to and from Iran.’ TRACE President Alexandra Wrage discusses the...
    Recent News Feed 4/26/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    TRACE International, the leading global anti-bribery standard setting organization, recently published the third in its biennial How to Pay a Bribe: Thinking Like a Criminal to Thwart Bribery Schemes series. The collection offers an insider’s view on how bribery and...
    Recent News Feed 4/20/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    “Due diligence is an ongoing process and requires constant, ongoing communication; it’s a tool, not an end in itself." TRACE President Alexandra Wrage comments on lessons that can be learned from the Unaoil bribery scandal with respect to due diligence. To read...
    Recent News Feed 4/19/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    Follow the 19-part TRACE Advantage series on EDC ExportWise to learn about business bribery risk in different regions. New content will be posted every Friday. To view the series, click here.
    Recent News Feed 4/15/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    The Unaoil story first published by The Age and Huffington Post on March 30, and supplemented yesterday with another chapter, has it all. There are code names, huge dollar amounts and intrigue.
    There have since been raids on the company’s offices by the Monaco...
    Recent News Feed 4/12/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    The international business community wins when companies across supply and marketing chains work to the same high standards. There is less risk and more predictability, which promotes confidence among business partners. Benchmarking among peers and establishing and sharing...
    Recent News Feed 3/28/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    Corporate Compliance is a hot topic nowadays in Romania since private companies have an increasing interest in developing policies and procedures which are meant to protect them from potential situations of waste, fraud, and abuse, either intentional or unintentional. The...
    Recent News Feed 3/25/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    Discussions in the compliance community can get pretty technical. Conferences focus on jurisdictional issues, appropriate levels of third party due diligence, sufficiency of internal controls and the best types of risk management tools. But a bribe is ultimately just a...
    Recent News Feed 3/24/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    Today,TRACE International, the leading global anti-bribery standard setting organization,published the third in its biennial How to Pay a Bribe series. The collection offers an insider's view on how bribery and corruption impact international business, making it an...
    Recent News Feed 3/15/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    Severin Wirz, Director of Member and Advisory Services, comments on trends in global anti-bribery enforcement in this guest post for Compliance Week.
    "To be sure, enforcement data is an important tool for companies to understand their anti-bribery regulatory risks. But...
    Recent News Feed 3/10/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    "TRACE International today announced the findings of its sixth annualGlobal Enforcement Report (GER), noting that the number of U.S. enforcement actions concerning bribery of foreign officials has increased slightly from the previous year, though there was a slowdown in the...
    Recent News Feed 3/9/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    "International anti-bribery cases dropped by 73% last year, according to a report out Wednesday, putting the U.S. back in the driver’s seat of international enforcement." To continue reading this post on the Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance Journal, click...
    Recent News Feed 3/9/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    "The extraction industries saw the brunt of bribery enforcement actions in 2015, but the manufacturing/service providing industry faces more U.S.investigations, according to a new report fromTRACE International, a provider of anti-bribery compliance services."Continue...
    Recent News Feed 3/9/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    Today, TRACE International, the leading global anti-bribery standard setting organization, named Intel the winner of the 2016 TRACE Innovation in Anti-Bribery Compliance Award (IACA) for the development of path-breaking educational methods.Read the complete press release...
    Recent News Feed 3/3/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    Click here to read comments from Patrick Stokes, head of the Justice Department’s FCPA unit, at the Annual TRACE Forum in D.C. on the Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance Journal blog.
    Recent News Feed 3/3/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    ‘Amidst the amusing anecdotes, there’s a very real collapse of leadership, especially with respect to creating a culture of compliance.’ TRACE President Alexandra Wrage discusses 5 leadership lessons from the FIFA scandal. Read the full article here.
    Recent News Feed 2/29/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    ‘FIFA will continue to be FIFA and the game, it’s fans, players and clubs will continue to be exploited.’ TRACE President Alexandra Wrage discusses the election of Gianni Infantino as the new FIFA president. Read the full article on Forbes here.
    Recent News Feed 2/27/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    As a three-time winner of the Top 100 Women award, Alexandra Wrage joins the Daily Record'sCircle of Excellence. To view the complete list of winner, click here.
    Recent News Feed 2/26/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    "The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are no longer the only two cops on the global anti-corruption beat," writes Alexandra Wrage, TRACE President, in this article published on Corporate Knights. To continue reading, click here.
    Recent News Feed 1/8/2016 12:00:00 AM Read More
    "Shipping is a huge and crucial industry. As Rose George, author of Deep Sea and Foreign Going says 'Without ships, half of the world would freeze and the other half would starve.'
    It is also a largely opaque one.  As pirates have known for millennia, the high seas are...
    Recent News Feed 12/2/2015 12:00:00 AM Read More