The US Justice Department (DOJ) is focusing anew on corporate sanctions evasion and other financial crimes related to national security. Addressing the American Bar Association National Institute on White Collar Crime, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced a significant restructuring of the National Security Division and the addition of more than 25 new prosecutors. They will investigate economic crimes such as sanctions evasion and export control violations. Monaco says corporate investigations increasingly have profound national security implications, and companies face multiple geopolitical and national security challenges.
CNN reports that according to Monaco, the National Security Division will issue new guidelines on what prosecutors expect from them to the US Commerce and Treasury departments regarding assisting with national security-related compliance enforcement. In addition, the DOJ will make a “substantial investment” in the department’s Bank Integrity Unit to investigate and prosecute international sanctions violations. Monaco noted that the DOJ had handled corporate investigations involving sanctions evasion in various industries, including transportation, financial technology, banking, defense, and agriculture.
The Justice Department has issued sanctions in several violation cases in the last year. For example, last October, prosecutors achieved a milestone with the first corporate guilty plea — from French cement company Lafarge SA — to lending material support for terrorism. The company admitted to making millions of dollars of payments that supported ISIS and another terrorist organization as part of an effort to maintain its operations in Syria during the civil war.
The DOJ’s new effort marks an essential step towards holding corporations accountable.