White Collar Employees Beware: Obama Implements New Financial Fraud Task Force
At the end of last year, President Barak Obama announced that he was establishing an inter-agency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. This task force has a mission of coordinating efforts for so called "white collar" financial fraud prosecutions.
The use of task forces is not new for the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). In addition to the Corporate Fraud Task Force, we have seen task forces such as the Katrina Hurricane Task Force that focused on fraud.
The executive order (13519) empowering the new Financial Fraud Task Force includes a long list of individual offices that will be represented on the task force (e.g. Homeland Security, FTC, SBA). At the head of the task force is the Attorney General, with the Deputy AG directing the work of the task force.
An interesting aspect of this task force is its mandate to "Outreach" to both private corporations and State and local government. The executive order states that:
"[T}the Task Force, in accordance with applicable law . . . shall conduct outreach with representatives of financial institutions, corporate entities, nonprofit organizations, State, local, tribal, and territorial governments and agencies, and other interested persons to foster greater coordination and participation in the detection and prosecution of financial fraud and financial crimes, and in the enforcement of antitrust and antidiscrimination laws."
In other words, President Obama has not only moved Financial Fraud investigation and prosecution up on the list of his priorities; he has used his Executive Order powers to put into place the mechanisms necessary to begin widespread investigation and prosecution.
Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking at the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force Press Conference made it very clear just how serious the administration is on this issue:
"We will investigate you, we will prosecute you, and we will incarcerate you. We will be relentless in our investigation of corporate and financial wrongdoing, and will not hesitate to bring charges, where appropriate, for criminal misconduct on the part of businesses and business executives." (http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2009/ag-speech-091117.html)
It is too early to determine if this aggressive new mandate will simply result in "cleaning house" at higher levels among the larger more prominent financial institutions, or if it will proliferate into "witch hunts" among middle and lower level corporate and government employees.
Either way, make no mistake: the Feds are now "watch-dogging" corporate and government employees with greater zeal than ever before.
If you are corporate or government employee who has any fiscal or financial duties, now is the time to ensure that all of your T's are crossed and your I's are dotted.
Above all, if you think you may be the subject of a Federal investigation you should speak to an experienced Federal attorney immediately: even if you have done nothing wrong. The best offense to a government case against you is always, unquestionably, a good defense.
Additionally, remember that it is a federal crime to make false statements to law enforcement. If an individual gives false information to federal investigators, he or she can be charged with a five-year felony.
Many false statement cases start with a seemingly innocent conversation with the feds. Before you talk to investigators and risk - whether intentionally or unintentionally - giving them any false information, talk to an attorney.
An attorney who understands the federal investigative system and procedures will ensure that your rights and interests are protected before the investigation proceeds to far.