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White collar prosecutions: Where the focus lies for now

White collar criminal prosecutions are in the news a lot these days. Since it's always wise to know where investigative trends are going, let's take a look at what's been happening in late 2019 and where you may expect investigative efforts to focus next.

At the end of 2019, the Justice Department got tough on a number of high-level executives over issues related to the way that their companies reported their success to investors. Executives at the tech startup Outcome Health were indicted for both bank and wire fraud, falsification of documents, as well as other kinds of illegal misconduct for allegedly deceiving banks, clients and investors alike.

Investigations are also looking into accounting fraud at companies like BMW and Goldman Sachs. The latter appears to be negotiating to cut a deal with federal authorities over allegations of money laundering and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPT).

In general, accounting fraud and market manipulations are expected to continue being a hot-button topic for the Justice Department. For evidence of where investigative efforts are being focused, you only have to look at cases like charges leveled at MiMedx executives for violations of securities law through "channel stuffing," or offloading products to distributors solely for the purpose of inflating sales figures.

Insider trading is also expected to become a big focus of prosecutorial power. The Insider Trading Prohibition Act (ITPA) passed the House of Representatives and moved to the Senate. If approved, it expands the definition of insider trading and broadens what kinds of activities can result in charges. Even without the Act's passage, you can expect the Justice Department to aggressively pursue these kinds of cases in the future because of the increasing amount of public attention that's been directed that way.

More than ever, it's important to stick to the straight-and-narrow in your business dealings. Federal prosecutors are increasingly seeking jail time for cases that once might have been settled with a fine.

If you are under investigation for white collar criminal activity, don't wait to see what happens: Get experienced legal counsel on your side now.

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