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US Justice Dept to offer more rewards to corporate whistleblowers

FILE PHOTO: Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco delivers remarks about the prosecution of war crimes in Ukraine committed by Russian forces during a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. on April 17, 2023. REUTERS/Amanda And

By Karen Freifeld and Chris Prentice

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department is expanding its whistleblower program to coax more tipsters to disclose corporate misconduct by offering monetary rewards, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Thursday.

The Justice Department is already authorized to dole out awards for information that leads to forfeitures of assets, but the agency has used it sparingly. The plan now is to launch a Justice Department-run whistleblower rewards program later this year, Monaco said at a conference of lawyers on Thursday.

“The premise is simple: if an individual helps the Justice Department discover significant corporate or financial misconduct – otherwise unknown to us – then the individual could qualify to receive a portion of the resulting forfeiture,” Monaco said at the American Bar Association’s annual conference on white collar crime.

The department is particularly interested in information on criminal abuse of the U.S. financial system, as well as foreign and domestic corruption cases, especially involving illegal corporate payments to government officials.

Other agencies have whistleblower programs. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, both civil regulators, launched initiatives in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis that they have touted as remarkably successful.

But those programs are limited in scope by the agencies’ jurisdictions, and the Justice Department is seeking to fill in the gaps, Monaco said.

The Justice Department has launched a series of policy changes under President Joe Biden, aimed at charging more executives involved in misconduct and holding repeat corporate offenders accountable.

Monaco said the department would continue to pour resources into the most serious cases, work to hold individuals accountable, and pursue tough penalties for repeat offenders, part of what she called a “carrots and sticks” approach to enforcement.

In addition to an upcoming monetary rewards program, she said U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and San Francisco are testing programs to offer non-prosecution agreements to wrongdoers who self-disclose to authorities and cooperate against more culpable targets.

Monaco noted that the department was focused on applying its tools against artificial intelligence that can “supercharge” illegal activity.

“Whether we’re deploying old school methods like flipping cooperators or responding to game-changing technology,” Monaco said, “the Justice Department will be unrelenting in our work to enforce our laws.”


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