In recent years, deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) have become an increasingly popular tool used by U.S. prosecutors to resolve corporate criminal investigations. A DPA is a deal between a prosecutor and a company under investigation, in which the company agrees to certain conditions in exchange for the prosecutor deferring or suspending criminal charges.
Under a DPA, the company typically agrees to cooperate fully with the government`s investigation, implement significant changes to its compliance program and governance structure, and pay a financial penalty. The DPA usually lasts for a specified period of time, during which the company must comply with the agreed-upon conditions. If the company meets the terms of the DPA, the prosecutor will typically dismiss the charges against the company at the end of the DPA period.
The use of DPAs has been controversial, with some critics arguing that they let companies off the hook too easily, while others argue that they are an effective way to hold companies accountable for wrongdoing while minimizing the collateral damage. Supporters of DPAs point to their potential to encourage companies to self-report wrongdoing and cooperate with investigations, which can help to uncover and prosecute other wrongdoers.
The use of DPAs in the U.S. has grown significantly in recent years, particularly in cases involving white-collar crime, corruption, and financial fraud. Some high-profile examples of DPAs include settlements with companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and Siemens. DPAs have also been used in cases involving violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials to win business.
The use of DPAs is not without risk for companies, however. Violating the terms of a DPA can result in the prosecutor revoking the agreement and pursuing criminal charges against the company. In addition, the disclosure of a DPA can damage a company`s reputation and lead to additional regulatory scrutiny.
In conclusion, deferred prosecution agreements have become a popular tool used by U.S. prosecutors to resolve corporate criminal investigations. While controversial, DPAs can be an effective way to hold companies accountable for wrongdoing while minimizing the collateral damage. Companies that enter into DPAs must be aware of the risks involved and ensure that they fully comply with the agreed-upon conditions.