The Department of Justice (DOJ) lost its third jury trial in its mission to secure criminal convictions against companies and executives accused of labor-side antitrust violations on March 22, 2023, when a jury in Maine acquitted four home healthcare staffing executives of violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act. In United States v. Manahe, the DOJ charged Faysal Kalayaf Manahe, Yaser Aali, Ammar Alkinani, and Quasim Saesah with entering into an approximately two-month conspiracy between April and May 2020 not to hire each other’s caretakers and to fix caretaker wages.[1] After the District Court declined to dismiss the indictment, holding the DOJ had successfully alleged a per se conspiracy to fix wages and allocate employees, the case proceeded to a two-week trial. At trial, defendants—all immigrants from Iraq, many of whom served as translators for U.S. forces there—admitted that they discussed setting wage levels and refraining from hiring each other’s employees, and even drafted an agreement with signature lines that outlined the terms of defendants’ discussions.[2] Defendants argued that they never reached an agreement in violation of Section 1 because the draft agreement was never signed. Defense counsel emphasized in opening statements that in defendants’ culture, “when dealing with business matters . . . the only way to confirm a commitment is to put it into a formal written contract.” Given the verdict, it appears the jury agreed.Continue Reading DOJ Loses Third Consecutive Criminal Trial in Antitrust Labor Case

On February 22, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new nation-wide policy to incentivize companies to self-report criminal activity. Among the cited benefits of self-reporting are discounts on fines and non-prosecution agreements. This new policy arrives on the heels of the “Monaco Memo,” issued in September 2022 by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, which directed each prosecutorial DOJ component to review its policies on corporate voluntary self-disclosures and update to reflect the guidance’s core principles. The policy also is in addition to guidance from Attorney General Merrick Garland, who in December 2022 emphasized prosecutorial leniency in criminal cases. Together, these memos show a shift from prior administrations, which emphasized prosecuting the “most serious, readily provable offense,” not leniency for self-disclosures. Notably, the new policy does not impact individual actors, who, since the 2015 Yates Memo, still are a DOJ priority. Indeed, the new policy emphasizes that crediting voluntary self-disclosure by companies will help DOJ “ensure individual accountability” for individual criminal conduct. We break down key elements of the DOJ’s policy below, including our quick thoughts on how this policy may impact corporate decisions going forward.Continue Reading Corporate Voluntary Self-Disclosure (VSD) of Criminal Activity: More of the Same or a Real Sea Change?

The inattention some companies pay to their ethics and compliance program never ceases to surprise us. You’d think the frequency of DOJ press releases and prosecutions holding companies accountable for employee wrongdoing would be enough to scare any business into directing more resources at prevention. But alas, many businesses, often over the protestations of their under-resourced Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers (CECOs), continue to think they can get by with a minimalist approach to ethics and compliance. Our experience suggests otherwise.Continue Reading DOJ’s Renewed Focus on Corporate Ethics & Compliance Programs Highlights Importance of Organizational Integrity

On March 2, 2022, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers laid out a significant and aggressive criminal enforcement agenda for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. While speaking at the ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime in San Francisco, CA, Powers began his remarks by noting that the Division’s Criminal Section currently had 18 indicted cases against 10 companies and 42 individuals, including 8 CEOs or Presidents. DAAG Powers also noted that the Section had 146 open grand jury investigations – more than at any time in the last thirty years and “expect[ed] to stay busy this year and beyond.”Continue Reading Executives Beware: DOJ Antitrust Division is Taking a Hard Look at a Wide Spectrum of Potential Criminal Violations