DOJ defends policy encouraging turnover of corporate records to investigators

DOJ defends policy encouraging turnover of corporate records to investigators

[JURIST] US Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty [official bio] expressed support at a Senate hearing Tuesday for a Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] policy that encourages corporations to turn over confidential records to officials investigating corporate fraud [JURIST news archive]. The 2003 Thompson Memorandum [PDF] instructs prosecutors that cooperation by officials is one of nine factors to take into account in determining whether to press charges against a company. According to McNulty, such cooperation may include disclosing the results of internal investigations and waiving attorney-client protections, although refusal to take these steps would not necessarily result in charges.

In testimony [official statement] before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary [official website], McNulty praised the transparency that the policy gives to the charging process. A spokesperson for the American Bar Association (ABA) [official website] opposed the policy [press release], however, arguing that "the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine are fundamental principles of our legal system that must be protected." The US Chamber of Commerce [press release] also urged the committee to invalidate provisions of the memorandum that would impede communication between attorneys and their clients. AP has more.