Photo of Celia Cohen

The scope of the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine for internal investigation reports has once again been clarified by the D.C. Circuit in a False Claims Act case against defense contractor KBR, Inc.  In its most recent decision, the D.C. Circuit rejected whistleblower Harry Barko’s arguments that KBR’s internal investigation documents were rendered discoverable either because they had been used to prepare a 30(b)(6) witness or because KBR referred to its internal investigation in its summary judgment papers.

Leslie Caldwell, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, is, in her own words, “pounding the pavement on cooperation and transparency.”  Speaking on Tuesday at the New York City Bar’s fourth annual White Collar Crime Institute in Manhattan, Caldwell took another opportunity to discuss what the government expects of companies that seek to cooperate with criminal investigations.  She emphasized that companies choosing cooperation and expecting to get full credit must act with candor and give the Department all relevant information in a timely fashion. In particular, the Justice Department expects companies to learn and disclose all knowable, relevant facts and to share them, whether they be good or bad and no matter how high the rank of the individuals responsible for the misconduct.

Ruling on Barclays’ motion to dismiss the action brought by the New York Attorney General regarding Barclays’ alternative trading system (“ATS”), Justice Shirley Kornreich suggested that the AG may face substantial hurdles in proving its case, although the Court narrowly upheld the Martin Act claim as a matter of law.

The AG based its claim on statements allegedly made to ATS participants regarding restrictions on use of the ATS for certain types of high frequency trading activity, which the complaint alleged to be false.  The case raised the novel legal issue of whether New York’s Martin Act applies to these statements, which did not relate to the purchase or sale of any particular security but addressed the nature of the trading venue that might be selected for securities transactions.

The Justice Department continues to send the strong signal that it is looking to charge senior executives of companies.  At a conference this week in London, senior Justice Department official Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sung-Hee Suh focused not only on the high priority the Department places on prosecution of corporate