The Business, Entrepreneurship & Tax Law Review


Paige Wheeler


In September of 2015, Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates, declared that the Department of Justice would shift its focus to pursuing individual accountability for cases of corporate wrongdoing, This shift reflects a change in directives, as the Department of Justice commonly resolved cases of corporate wrongdoing through the companies themselves prior to what is now commonly known as the Yates Memorandum. The Yates Memorandum centers on the conclusion that one of the most successful ways to tackle corporate misconduct is by making sure that the individuals who are committing the wrongdoing are held accountable for their actions. The Yates Memorandum hopes to achieve this goal of individual accountability by implementing incentives for large corporations to cooperate with the Department of Justice. Prosecuting corporate crime, however, presents unique issues that will likely still make holding individuals accountable for their corporate wrongdoing a challenge, regardless of the new directives set forth in the Yates Memorandum. Although the Yates Memorandum will not resolve all of the challenges involved in prosecuting corporate crimes, it is a necessary shift in the right direction that is an effective use of the Department of Justice’s resources in an effort to identify the culpable individuals who commit corporate crimes and hold them accountable for their wrongdoing.

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