Friday, December 08, 2006

Corporate Watchdog On The Job

The "business-friendly" party is coming through for the team:

The departing chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee proposed legislation yesterday calling for a rollback of the tactics adopted by federal prosecutors to combat corporate wrongdoing after the Enron collapse.

The bill from Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, is the latest challenge to the tactics, which have come under scrutiny from trade groups, former United States attorneys general and a prominent federal judge. Mr. Specter said he would reintroduce the bill next month when Congress convenes.

The Justice Department is now weighing how much to revise the guidelines, which are used as a playbook by prosecutors when conducting investigations of companies and employees. But the white-collar-crime group of an advisory council to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the body that is redrafting the guidelines, is mired in internal debate over how much to scale them back, according to a person close to the matter.

The current guidelines lay out nine factors that prosecutors must consider when weighing whether to indict a company or an individual. The guidelines are intended to encourage companies and people under scrutiny to demonstrate cooperation with investigators by, among other things, disclosing legal secrets, or else face a heightened risk of indictment — a death knell, as it was for the accounting firm Arthur Anderson in 2002.

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