The Justice Department may soon announce changes to its policies for prosecuting white-collar crime, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Thursday.
In a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Rosenstein said the so-called Yates Memo, issued by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, is “under review.” The policy stresses individual accountability in prosecutions related to corporate wrongdoing. Rosenstein did not provide any details, saying only that he anticipates the DOJ will make an announcement in the “near future about what changes we’re going to make.”
Rosenstein suggested he supported a continued focus on prosecuting individuals.
“The issue is can you effectively deter corporate crime by prosecuting corporations or do you in some circumstances need to prosecute individuals,” he said. “I think you do.”
Others at the DOJ have indicated they support prioritizing individual prosecutions. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stressed the issue in a speech earlier this year. The attorney general said that, in a compliance setting, a company cannot “be a guarantor that any of its thousands, perhaps, employees never do something wrong.”
“Is it just to punish a corporation for wrongdoing that only one member of the corporation did?” Sessions said in the speech.
Rosenstein also touched briefly on the DOJ’s policies regarding enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that decriminalized the drug. He said the DOJ is “reviewing” its current policy for federal prosecutors, and noted that policy does not create a “safe harbor” to shield individuals from federal prosecution in states that legalized marijuana.
He said the DOJ is determining whether to revise the policy, but did not offer a timeline or specifics.
“We’re looking at the states that have legalized, or decriminalized, marijuana,” Rosenstein said. “We’re trying to evaluate what the impact is. I think there’s some pretty significant evidence that marijuana turns out to be more harmful than a lot of people anticipated. And it’s more difficult to regulate than I think was contemplated ideally by some of those states.”