On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to a major professional group, delivering a keynote address, emphasizing his plans to stamp out white collar crime.
He discussed the importance of ethics and compliance for professionals. Sessions gave this talk to ECI- the Ethics and Compliance Initiative.
This is a group of professions from all over the world that include lawyers and academics. Sessions said that the government will “enforce the law” and that it will not “back down to powerful forces” or “big companies.”
He pointed out that breaking the law should not give one company an advantage to a lawful company and that it is important to “protect honest business.”
People in the compliance community were delighted to have him address them. Sessions is said to not only push honest, but to have an open mind when it comes to the issues of the business world.
Bribery and other back door misconduct make up a major portion of white collar crimes. Sessions said that this is not like 40 years ago, when “companies considered it a routine expense to bribe foreign officials.” He is making a stand.
Sessions was introduced by Larry Thompson, the organization’s board chairman. Thompson served as deputy attorney general under president George W. Bush, and would even share rooms with Sessions when the two came to Washington as fellow U.S. Attorneys in the 1980s.
“We don’t want to see you in court, and sure you don’t want to see the Department of Justice in court,” Sessions joked to begin his address, explaining the importance of ethics and compliance professionals in developing best practices to avoid corporate misconduct before it occurs. The attorney general went on to stress the centrality of the strong rule of law to the American way of life, and that each generation could not “take it for granted.” “We’re going to enforce the law. We’re not going to back down to powerful forces, big companies, or any other interests,” Sessions assured the group. “That includes corporate misconduct, fraud, foreign corruption, and other types of white collar crime.” Sessions explained that the implementation of best practices by compliance professionals and evenhanded enforcement by the DOJ served to “protect honest businesses.”
“Companies that obey the law and do the right thing should not be at a disadvantage simply because their competitors choose to break the law,” he said.