On September 13, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its first ever Statement of Interest in the bankruptcy of an asbestos company, signaling that DOJ intends to prioritize fraud and mismanagement relating to asbestos trusts. The Statement, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina in the Chapter 11 proceedings for Kaiser Gypsum Company, asserts that the proposed trust plans lack adequate safeguards and indicates that DOJ will object unless the final plan better ensures transparency and prevents fraud. Below are three major takeaways from DOJ’s action:

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environment landscape natureAttorney Megan Caldwell recently blogged about two recent agency enforcement memoranda impacting the enforcement of environmental violations. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) have issued memos make changes in how agencies will focus on their roles in regards to enforcement. These changes may affect your company’s approach 

Scales of JusticeAll too often, corporations and executives trying to “do the right thing” find little preventative guidance coming from the Department of Justice. Companies seeking to ensure their corporate compliance programs are robust enough to withstand government scrutiny frequently must resort to reviewing the United States Sentencing Guidelines or prior Non-Prosecution Agreements or Deferred Prosecution Agreements for guidance.

Recently, though, the DOJ Fraud Section quietly issued additional information about how DOJ prosecutors evaluate a company’s compliance program in “conducting an investigation of a corporate entity, determining whether to bring charges, and negotiating plea or other agreements.” The guidance was issued on February 8, 2017, and was not accompanied by so much as a press release or other public statement. Titled “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs,” it can be found in full here.


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taxAs party goers rang in 2017 this past holiday weekend, owners of Bitcoins had additional reason to celebrate as the value of the digital currency soared past $1,000 USD on Monday. The surge in Bitcoin price, up from just $200 USD in January 2015, may provide additional fodder for the IRS, who has its crosshairs set on Bitcoin users who do not properly report their income related to the buying, selling, and/or exchanging of the digital currency.

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On December 17, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that its Environmental and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) will increase efforts to work with the mining U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate and prosecute crimes related to workplace violations. According to the DOJ’s Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates, “On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked.” As such, Ms. Yates said the DOJ is “redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers’ health and safety.”

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On July 18 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed Texas EquuSearch’s challenge of the FAA’s directive that it stop flying search-and-rescue missions using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)/drones.  In doing so, the Appellate panel, siding with the Justice Department/FAA, reasoned that the FAA’s email at issue was simply a warning and not subject to judicial review. The court said it lacked authority to review a claim in which “an agency merely expresses its view of what the law requires of a party.”

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