Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at the Ethics and... CSPAN April 24, 2017 3:19pm-4:05pm EDT
have worked for agencies, domestic violence advocate for the police department. will i qualify for student forgiveness? guest: if your work has been for the government and for 501(c)(3)'s you probably will. you don't have to have the same employer over the full 10 years that would you do have to do is coupled together proof of employment from those different plane -- those different places. it does not have to be 10 consecutive years of work but ultimately you do have to make 10 years worth of student loan payments. before you receive forgiveness you have to make 120 pa
>> there's a lot of really good things and prizes for you to be able to win as we move forward. with that, i think we will move forward. it's all yours. >> good afternoon, everyone. i'm the chief executive officer of the ethics and compliance mission. for those of you just joining us , we welcome you to our annual conference. order.word about our i have a of introducing the chair of our organization, terry thompson and larry will introduce the attorney general. just a word or two about larry. first of all, i recently had the
opportunity to be a guest lecturer at larry's law school class. he is the professor of corporate and university -- corporate law at the university of georgia and as i was in his class, looking out over the auditorium with their laptops, i said do you have any idea who you are professor is. and of them looked at me thought we probably should, but there were few individuals who the way we impact on think about ethics and compliance as larry thompson. that's why it's great to have him here with us today. larry has seen the issue of ethics and compliance from a number of perspectives. after law school, he was an attorney representing corporate clients as they were facing federal investigations and then
served as u.s. attorney for the northern district of georgia. following that, he was appointed deputy attorney general of the u.s. department of justice by george bush. -- of us know you for larry left the department of justice and went into the private sector to oversee part of compliance at pepsico were he was general counsel and secretary until his retirement in 20 18. notably comedy compliance function reported to larry. until his retirement part that i got from his official bio, i would note that larry has not retired yet. he is teaching at a university a law firm andto
we were honored that he agreed to serve as the new chairman of our board in january of this year. it is a great pleasure to have him help lead this organization. with that, i would like to welcome larry to do stage. [applause] >> good afternoon. thank you for that kind introduction. to say a few things, preliminary remarks, before i have the honor of introducing our distinguished speaker. i'm sorry i could not be with you this morning. last night, i had a little incident and had to go to the george washington hospital emergency room and i was not released until 1:30 this morning.
but i want to tell you if you think you are a big deal in this world, the chief compliance officer of the acme widget company, go to the george washington emergency center. it will be a humbling experience -- it will be a humbling experience. [laughter] i have worked on organizational compliance from a number of perspectives. i've represented clients facing investigations for suspected wrongdoing. as united states attorney and deputy attorney general, i saw a different side as i was charged with enforcing our laws and initiating investigation for suspected corporate wrongdoing -- fashioning remedial measures. i've also seen a third side to this issue as general counsel of a large global company. in that role, i worked diligently to help my company
put systems in place to avoid and tangled and for the federal government and to promote the highest level of integrity in our business operations. doply put, what i tried to it not job was to make certain my company did the right thing all the time all around the globe. during that time that i was , the chiefnsel ethics and compliance officer reported directly to me with independent access to the ceo and our board. of my varied experiences, i have become convinced the best way forward in this important area in terms of preventing and mitigating corporate and organizational crime is to focus on the development of first-class programs across all industries and sectors. that is why ladies and gentlemen, i was honored to be invited and the elected chairman
of the board of the ethics and compliance commission. this organization is doing a great deal of work to support the development of high quality ethics and organizations across all sectors. i am impressed by our community of practitioners that comprise the membership and i know from my personal experience and research has shown that the work you do in your organization makes a huge difference. us, i alsoll of believe effective law enforcement is critical to the success of organizations across all sectors. the enforcement community helps is this create a level playing field and ensures accountability for wrongdoers and, as we have seen over the past few years, the department of justice itself
in particular plays an important role in encouraging effect of ethics and compliance programs. in light of that, it is my distinct honor to introduce our next speaker. sessions, wasf sworn in as that 84th attorney general of the united states on february 9. he has an impressive career, having first served in the united states army reserve from 1973 to 1986, attaining the rank of captain. general sessions, and let people don't understand this, general sessions may have more on point law enforcement experience than any recent attorney general. he has been an assistant united states attorney, he has been a united states attorney, and he has been a state attorney general. in addition, he was a united
states senator, responsible for oversight of the department of justice. something many of you may not know, general sessions and i have been roommates as young prosecutors, we decided to room together, he from mobile and me from atlanta, we decided to room together when we had to come to washington for conferences in order to stretch our meager per diem allowances. i think many of you may be familiar that. you may know that i testified on behalf of attorney general sessions at his confirmation hearing. that was not just because he is my friend, but because i believe experience as a federal prosecutor and united states senator will bring much needed strong leadership to our department of justice. i know that our attorney general's eager to talk to our
community today, and in particular about his priorities for law enforcement and the importance of the work we do in ethics and compliance. so, with that, it is my distinct pleasure and honor to introduce to this community, the attorney general of the united states, the honorable jeff sessions. attorney general sessions: thanks larry. thank you all. it is great to be with you. this is quite a group. class.hinking about that you may not know who larry johnson is. was one of the most important leaders in the department of justice. one of the most respected deputies.
he did a great job and people still talk about him. it is a pleasure for me to be with you. i know how important it is -- the work that you do. we don't want to see you in court. it may not be typical for the attorney general to speak at a compliant conference like this -- compliance conference like this. twonted to convey important messages. the department of justice investigation prosecutes people who break the law. criminalizews that corporate misconduct. that is an incredibly important
responsibility. these are good people. they work hard every day to try to do the right thing. i love the department. i know larry thompson loves the department. theave high ideals for department. that ouro be sure reality is your reality in the world that we are in. we to make sure the people who do wrong are identified. we also need to make sure the mistake make an honest are regarded as such. experience to the properly evaluate cases. i have spent almost 15 years as a prosecutor in federal court.
a good prosecutor with good judgment can tell the difference between an honest mistake and willful misconduct. i think we can work with that and that will be one of our philosophies. we will enforce the law. we will not back down to powerful forces, big companies with powerful economic interests. set an example from the top to do the right thing. we will be fair and tried to comply. we will try to have equal justice for the rich and the poor. case, that is a sign that something is already gone wrong. that is what your work speaks to.
we applaud your efforts. our department would much rather have people and companies obey the law so we don't have to see each other in court. your good work makes our jobs easier, it makes your companies and your countries better. thank you to the department of justice for doing this important work. we will continue to work together to see if we can develop a compliance program that helps your companies. we will continue that kind of work. the second message i want to make clear today is that under my leadership of the department remainice -- we committed to enforcing all the laws. i did that as the united states attorney. importantted a lot of
cases. i was proud of the team and the integrity that we brought to the process. as you are probably aware, i spent my first week as attorney general ensuring that our department strengthens its focus on some key issues. we need to turn back the recent surge in violent crime. of the ind 30 years violent crime in america. the last several years have shown an uptick. last year we had a 10.7% increase in murders in america. it is up again this year. we have a situation that is out
there that all of us in the department of justice need to focus on. we will try to reverse this trend. i think the experience of the last 30 years was fabulous and improvement in policing. the way we supervise always officers, the way we call on them in communities. itling with smaller crimes, is absolutely working. we need to continue to see that. it saves lives of innocent people. need to restore a lawful system of immigration. end it and immigration -- mmigration. -- if you go to the mexican border, you see trucks hauling produce back and forth.
none of that will be ended. i think the american people are good, decent, polite and adjust. -- and just. disrupt the cartel, the gangs and human traffickers that are bringing drugs and violence into our communities. they threaten the very integrity of the nation. countries, when they had this much power, firearms and capability, you get to the point where a judge is led to a decision between lead and gold. too much money to
these illegal enterprises. the u.s. government does have a role to play in that. challenges -- se we will double however is to combat violent crime. we will still enforce the laws and protect the american consumer and ensure that honest businesses aren't playing at a disadvantage to dishonest businesses. this department will continue to prosecute corporate fraud, organized crime, trade secret theft, securities fraud, health care fraud, and internet fraud. fraud are always paid for by innocent people. we have a responsibility that.
the department of justice not only has a duty to uphold the law that makes our country so aeat but we also have responsibility to protect our consumers. these laws are in place for a reason. we will also enforce these laws so we can 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. one area where this is critical is -- congress enacted this law. companies consider this a routine expense. this type of corruption, competition distorts prices.
it also means the cost of doing --iness for honest companies our department wants to create a even playing field for law-abiding companies. companies should succeed. not because they paid off the right people. let me come include by making to final point about our approach to this work. the department of justice will continue to emphasize the importance of holding individuals accountable for corporate misconduct. i do believe as a longtime prosecutor that something is not if honest corporate shareholders have to pay the price for dishonest corporate
leadership. individuals who violate the law should the held accountable. ccountable.a ,e will work with our allies corporate and abroad. we will take into account whether companies have good compliance programs. stepsr they take suitable to remediate problems. the department of justice has directed our prosecutors to consider these factors when we make decisions. companiesductions for that sell disclose, cooperate and except responsibility for their misconduct. i think that is a legitimate factor in our law.
these principles will still be part of our discretion. our economy and indeed our whole system of self government hinges on people who disregard the law being caught and punished. it is that simple. this is ultimately the responsibility of the department of justice and part of my experience and part of my philosophy as a government prosecutor. people, it depends on and companies choosing on their own accord to obey the law and do the right thing. .t is harder to do that we need everybody complying with the law. we need to make this a longer task. each of you place an essential -- plays an essential role in this work.
get frustrated by judges and rulings. i had this magnificent experience for 12 years. the rules wonderful of evidence are. can answer any question about admissibility. most judges have a fairly good understanding of those roles. -- rules. they can feel like they can have an honest day in court. are willing to expand and grow and invest in ways it would not happen otherwise. as a member of the armed services committee for 20 years, i have had the opportunity to travel around the world.
going to places where we want to help. we have poured so much effort and so much blood and so much effort to help them develop a legal system that can be comparable to ours. it is not easy. but we have in this country is and very fewue places in the world can come close to replicating it. part of that is making sure that our corporate community follows the law. we have a situation where people voluntarily pay their taxes, that is pretty good. part,ay them for the most honestly, every day. if we ever lose this, it is a big deal. i don't believe that we are guaranteed to have this kind of rule of law forever.
tohink every generation has protected, defendant and work at it. that is what we in the department of justice will work to do. thank you all, i am honored to be with you. i appreciate you. [applause] >> earlier, before we came in i was telling the attorney general that we would have a q&a. he said you are in charge. thank you for being here with us. we appreciate you taking the .ime and your thoughtfulness to yountioned previously, our organization is comprised by ethics and compliance practitioners who are every day with
creating systems in the organization that not only will detect wrongdoing if it should a occur.- a car -- what i would like to do, you talked about a range of things, for the purposes of our audience i would like to have a conversation about crime with respect to corporations and ethics and compliance programs. you are very clear that the department plans to continue to enforce on white-collar crime. ais department has also had heavy emphasis -- attorney general sessions: we can have a situation where your competitors don't pay for crimes
. foreignre that the competitors are not often bound by these laws and it can provide them a substantial advantage over honest companies that don't do those things. i have heard stories over the years. i think that is a law that is on the books that should be enforced. i would say that if you have ideas about how to deal with competitors that haven't previously been subject to the rules of corporate behavior, maybe we can talk about that. states that the united cannot allow its corporate
community to be more vulnerable -- if we competition can stop it. american jobelp of creation and the strength of ourican economies and manufacturing base -- we need to look at laws that are ability toing our expand and increase our productivity. it is a big issue. i would seek your advice and suggestions if you have them from the real world. thank you for that. some of the questions i am posing came through our membership prior to your
comment. these are the questions that are on the minds of the people in the ethics and compliance committee. revisitlpful for us to a few of your points. one of the things you mentioned was prosecuting individuals more so than organizations. that has been the thinking of the department in the past. is this a priority going forward? attorney general sessions: i think so. that havings felt pay the price for corporate mismanagement hasn't been the solution. a corporation is an entity and can be punished. misbehaves, those who own it should not expect to be immune from suffering loss. iton't have a problem with
but just to say there are corporate sharpies -- they should be looked at personally to see if their -- they shoulds be prosecuted. i would expect our team to do so. our membersr of work for organizations. with respect to -- dear expect this to continue -- do you expect this to continue? attorney general sessions: i think there can be abuses in that situation. we have to work with foreign countries and their law enforcement community. i remember in the 90's.
he was shocked-- at how much time he was spending on international issues. travel you will have to and people really want to hear from the attorney general of the united states because you have so much international relationships. we have to get it right. i remember many years ago, we had a situation in which i felt the department of justice had basically encouraged foreign enforcement authorities to pile on american companies to get a settlement in a case that they thought was just. i was dubious about that, i didn't feel good about that. useink we should not try to
that kind of tactic. maybe it is justified sometimes but i don't think so. i am dubious about that. having a fair day in court, a corporation being able to defend itself and not be subjected to extra threats by using international pressure is a valuable principle that i believe we should adhere to. i've been away from some of these choices for a while. that is some of my feelings from the gut or heart. we are open to suggestions from you on how to better conduct our business. pat: you mentioned in your remarks that you recognize that the work of ethics and compliance practitioners are very valuable to their corporations, the country over all, to what extent is it your
about high- we talk quality ethics programs. when a company has done the work it can to establish an effective program, to what extent is it your view that the company has done what it can to try to prevent misconduct within itself? attorney general sessions: i think that is very important. a company cannot be a guarantor to any of its employees -- we do not need to have good companies be subjected to millions of dollars in lawsuits or criminal penalties the out a rational basis because one person went awry. balance is hard to
do. what you should seek to do is justice. is it just for a corporation that only one member of the corporation did some discipline -- position put you in a defendou can't yourself in trial because of the embarrassinment it might be? sometimes you have to expect the department of justice can make good decisions. there are areas where we have to make the right decisions. that gives you some of my thoughts about how we would approach that issue. note.ust on a follow-up particularly in
the fraud section has done some thinking about the ethics and compliance programs and what to helps can be asked determine whether a good program is in place. that thinking has very much influenced the way this industry has been shaped. it influences corporate america. this is how these programs are sibley by how you evaluate what and ethics and compliance program is. for practice -- for practitioners in the field, it can be hard to get leaderships to fully support the ethics and compliance programs. -- goesa very long way suspectong way that i
members of the department may not realize. if you judge the program and get some incentives for it, to what extent the department is willing to do that or extend that is very valuable to us. attorney general sessions: you make a good point there. we don't want to dictate a company on everything they have to do. if the company follows proven policies that reduce obvious, and ared misconduct committed to that kind of culture, if something goes wrong, i think they should be given some incentive or appreciated for trying to do that. legitimate discussion process to have about the legality in a company. departmenten is the
to suggestions from business about those things? how open are you to suggestions about incentives that might be offered with respect to good ethics and compliance programs? itorney general sessions: know that you had relations with the department of justice where you met with prosecutors and leaders in the department and discussed some of your insight into how the policies in the department of justice can be helpful or harmful to you. i think we should keep doing that. i would be very open to that. can do to set up those kinds of meetings, let me know. know i will follow-up with you on that.
attorney general sessions: oh , okay. [laughter] pat: gracias persistent is my mantra. couple ofst a questions left. i know you are mr. attorney general. you have a very stressful schedule throughout your career. when you are not filling your attorney general role, what do you do for fun? attorney general sessions: i don't have any time. [laughter] pat: what do you mean? attorney general sessions: we flew out to texas with homeland
security and got back at 1:00 a.m. on saturday morning. we had to be in the office to do things. then you go sleep very well when you do that. i had another one this morning that sounded like a good idea at the time. it was at 8:00. you don't want to say something stupid. it is hard for me to not face of the that gets me. larry was the beauty attorney general -- deputy attorney general. it is a powerful position. i am hoping that my deputy will be confirmed on wednesday. years in thed 25
department. a u.s. attorney in maryland served under president bush and president obama. he is going to be a great deputy. it will be good to have a little relief when he comes. -- we have to get her confirmed. she would be the associate. rachel is a fabulous lawyer and a wonderful person and we can't wait to get the two of them on board. i would say that as a senator we have recess. always promising that i am working in my district. not always.
i do like to go fishing. so far, i haven't had much time as attorney general, i must say. your attorneyet so thaty attorney soon you can have some time off. attorney general sessions: those people we are trying to bring in to the department are people of judgment, integrity, as much good, proven experience as we can get. there is a fraud division, civil division, antitrust division. i think he kind of people we are fairing in, anybody who is would say that these people would carry on a good local system for -- good, lawful