This article discusses a new federal law that will subject corporations and organizations convicted of federal criminal offenses to fines as high as $290 million dollars, and perhaps more in some instances. Under that law, however, a convicted company's fine may be dramatically reduced if the company had in place, before the offense, an "effective program to prevent and detect violations of the law." An effective compliance program, as it has been described by the government, includes: the adoption of standards specifically tailored to the company's business; the involvement of high-level personnel; training programs and other procedures to educate employees about compliance; auditing, reporting, and disciplinary mechanisms; and the necessity for ongoing modifications and improvements to the program. Finally, the article also describes recent trends in the expansion of the criminal law that may subject more and more companies to the threat of criminal prosecution and explores the potential benefits of a compliance program outside the criminal context.
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