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DOJ: Chats, emails, phone calls are evidence of compliance (or not)

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, left, had this to say Monday at the Money Laundering Enforcement Conference in Washington, D.C.:

[W]hen deciding whether to prosecute an institution for the actions of its employees, we look hard at the messages that bank management and supervisors are actually giving to employees in the context of their day-to-day work. We look at chats, emails, and recorded phone calls — things that are readily available to senior management and compliance professionals. We talk to witnesses in order to determine what kinds of messages about compliance have been conveyed, or, on the flip side of that coin, what encouragement they may have received to exploit any possible edge to make money.  We examine the incentives that banks provide their employees to either cross the line, or to exhibit compliant behavior. If a financial institution wants to encourage compliance – if its values are not skewed towards making money at all costs – then that message must be conveyed to employees in a meaningful and effective way if they’d like Department to view it as credible.  To have an effective compliance program, we expect banks to put in place procedures to detect problems, and proactively utilize those procedures — without waiting until the government comes knocking at their door with a subpoena. 


Deputy AG Cole’s full remarks are here.

His DOJ bio is here.

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