Just when it seemed that the legal climate was growing more favorable to the subjects of parallel government investigations, a prominent federal appellate court has declared, in effect, “not so fast.” Defense counsel and their clients, faced with even the possibility of such investigations, must continue to proceed with great caution.

Parallel investigations occur when two different government agencies — one civil, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, and one criminal, such as the United States Department of Justice — investigate the same or similar conduct. While the sanctions sought by the civil and criminal agencies are different, the agencies’ ultimate goals — preventing and punishing what they view as illegal conduct — are the same. Accordingly, civil and criminal agencies often work closely with one another, sharing information and coordinating strategy.

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