The U.S. Department of Justice looks for evidence that a company’s compliance department operates independently and with autonomy when conducting an investigation. But it does not prescribe that a company’s compliance functions be separate from its in-house legal department, a senior DOJ official said Wednesday at the Association of Corporate Counsel’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Growing pressures to create a culture of compliance at the highest levels of an organization have led companies to consider separating the two functions, with the chief compliance officer reporting to the chief executive and board of directors rather than to the general counsel. But James Koukios, senior deputy chief of the DOJ’s fraud section in the criminal division, said this decision should be made on a case-by-case basis and tailored to a company’s circumstances.

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