The Environmental Crimes Section (ECS) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) issued revisions to its Voluntary Self-Disclosure (VSD) Policy on March 2, 2023, revising ECS’s earlier disclosure policy dating from 1991. The new VSD Policy highlights the importance of robust environmental compliance programs. Specifically, the VSD Policy explains how ECS intends to encourage self-auditing, self-policing, and voluntary self-disclosure of potential criminal conduct by affording credit for voluntary self-disclosure of potential criminal environmental violations and exercising its prosecutorial discretion in deciding whether to pursue an environmental criminal case.
The new policy follows several new DOJ policies and announcements on corporate enforcement, including self-disclosure. The Deputy Attorney General in September 2022 issued a memorandum that instructed each DOJ component that prosecutes corporate crime to review its policies on corporate voluntary self-disclosure. DOJ’s Criminal Division in January 2023 announced a new Corporate Enforcement and Voluntary Self-Disclosure Policy, which Sidley covered in detail here. This was expanded with a United States Attorneys’ Offices Voluntary Self-Disclosure Policy issued in February 2023. Notably, criminal investigations coordinated or led by ECS may look to its new VSD Policy in the first instance, not necessarily policies issued by other DOJ components.
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