2018 Data Show No Slowdown in Corporate Prosecutions at DOJ

With the change of presidential administrations in January 2017, it was expected that the priorities of the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) would shift away from white-collar crime enforcement and towards immigration, violent crime, and narcotics enforcement.  But recent data actually show a significant uptick in both prosecutions and convictions of individuals by the DOJ Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in 2018 over the previous two years.  Moreover, the amount of money the DOJ recovered from companies through Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) or Non-Prosecution Agreements (NPAs) skyrocketed in 2018 .

The Fraud Section’s 2018 year-in-review report shows that the Section charged 406 individuals in 2018, a roughly 35 percent increase over the number charged in both 2016 and 2017.  258 individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial in 2018, a 28 percent increase over 2016 and a 10 percent increase over 2017.  While much of the increase in prosecutions is attributable to the Section’s focus on individual prosecutions related to opioids, the number of prosecutions  was up in each of the Section’s units–Health Care Fraud, Securities and Financial Fraud, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act .

In addition, in 2018 the DOJ entered 24 DPAs or NPAs with companies, where the Government agrees to forego prosecution in return for the company’s payment of fines and penalties.  Monetary recoveries in 2018 totaled $8.1 billion, a huge increase from $2.7 billion in 2017, and close to the high of $9 billion recovered in 2012.

Changes in presidential administrations often lead to predictions about DOJ enforcement trends that turn out to be dead wrong .  So far, this appears to have happened in the corporate fraud enforcement arena.  If anything, the data suggest that DOJ corporate fraud enforcement has picked up rather than slowed down in the past two years.