In 2008, in U.S. vs. Stringer, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the government could conduct parallel civil and criminal investigations. That means that what may appear to be a simple regulatory examination could actually be a “cloaked” criminal investigation. Any statements made to a regulator could be used against a person in a criminal case. There are numerous civil and regulatory statutes that include provisions allowing for criminal punishments. For example, almost any violation of the Oregon Mortgage Lender Law can be punished as a class C felony. That includes such “offenses” as not completing continuing education on time or failing to comply with an Oregon Administrative Rule.
Both the state and federal government are increasingly relying on task forces made up of both criminal and regulatory agencies. These task forces allow the government to pool their resources. As a result, a regulatory agency can share information with a criminal agency without the knowledge of the individual or business involved.
Unless a firm has attorneys experienced in both regulatory compliance and criminal law they will not be fully prepared for the potential of a parallel investigation. The attorneys at O’Connor Weber have a combination of regulatory and criminal experience to help clients prepare for parallel investigations and the unique and sometimes difficult decisions involved. Our appellate experience can also help to fight against any unfair practices employed in a parallel investigation.
Do you know what violations of law in your profession could lead to criminal sanctions? If you would like to know whether you or your business could potentially be the subject of a parallel investigation contact O’Connor Weber. We can discuss how to help protect your business from the uncertainty and risks inherent in parallel investigations.