The approach to compliance programs of the Antitrust Division at the US Department of Justice has evolved considerably over the last few years, starting with the release of their watershed Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs in Criminal Antitrust Investigations in July 2019. This document was a dramatic step forward in providing recognition of compliance programs and encouraged prosecutors to consider three fundamental questions:
- Is the corporate compliance program well designed?
- Is the program being applied earnestly and in good faith?
- Does the corporation’s compliance program work?
In August 2020 the DOJ followed up with the creation of the Office of Decree Enforcement and Compliance (ODEC) to provide additional resources for criminal and civil antitrust cases.
In this podcast Larry Reicher, the ODEC Chief, explains that the Office has multiple goals. First, it seeks to ensure that companies are compliant with decrees. There have been instances in the last few years in which parties had not lived up to their obligations.
ODEC is also charged with acting as a resource for the Criminal Section of the Antitrust Division as it analyzes compliance programs in companies seeking to earn credit for them. In addition, the Office is responsible for the section of monitors, when one is required.
Its role is also to incentify compliance and good citizenship and, ideally, prevent problems from happening in the first place. To help achieve that goal ODEC looks for four common traits in organizations:
- A commitment to a culture of compliance
- The company self-reports properly
- Full and timely cooperation
- Thorough and timely remediation
In addition, they are particularly focused on determining if the compliance program is tailored to the industry and company, not an off-the-shelf exercise.
Listen in to learn more about ODEC as well as the Department of Justice’s expectations and rewards for effective antitrust compliance programs.