Blog Article 

 Strategic Compliance: DPA 

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Michael Santos

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Your Pathway to Avoiding Government Investigations and Qualifying for Deferred Prosecution Agreements


“I’m with the government and I’m here to help.” 

Ronald Reagan’s words echo a sentiment many business leaders share today—no one wants to encounter a government investigation. 

Yet in an era where government oversight is more pervasive than ever, understanding how to navigate these waters is not just beneficial – it’s essential for survival.

My journey through a 26-year federal prison sentence, stemming from decisions made without fully understanding government investigations, taught me lessons that I now share with fellow business leaders. These experiences, along with stories from over 10,000 individuals I met while serving multiple decades in federal prison, are a testament to the importance of robust compliance in avoiding the pitfalls of government scrutiny.

Why Compliance is More Than Just Following Rules

Compliance is not merely about ticking boxes. It’s about creating a culture where integrity is at the core of every business operation. This culture not only deters government investigations but also builds a foundation of trust with your clients and stakeholders.

Crafting a Compliance Program That Speaks Volumes

  • Assess and Understand Your Risk: Every industry has its unique regulatory challenges. Understanding these and creating policies tailored to mitigate these risks is the first step.
  • Policies That Everyone Can Understand: Clear, concise, and accessible policies are crucial. They should be more than just documents; they should be part of your organizational ethos.
  • Training That Empowers: Regular, insightful training sessions can transform your workforce into a compliance-savvy team. Understanding the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ makes a significant difference.
  • A Safe Space for Communication: Fostering an environment where concerns about violations can be raised without fear is crucial for early detection and resolution of issues.
  • Audits as a Norm: Regular audits should not be seen as a burden but as a health check for your business’s ethical pulse.
  • A Rapid Response System: How you respond to a compliance issue can define your business’s future. Quick, decisive actions reflect your commitment to ethical practices.

The Path to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA)

Imagine a scenario: A CEO, unaware of a sales team that colludes with a competitor, faces a sudden government investigation. Below I show how a well-established compliance program can be a lifesaver, advancing possibility for a DPA:

  1. Voluntary Disclosure: Proactively approach the government with any issues. Transparency is key.
  2. Full Cooperation: Should an investigation commence, cooperate fully. This includes providing necessary documents and support.
  3. Show Remediation Efforts: Document steps already taken to rectify the issue. This proactive approach can significantly influence DPA considerations.
  4. Demonstrate a History of Compliance: A track record of robust compliance can tilt the scales in your favor when negotiating a DPA.

Prepare Early:

As I reflect on my past and the lessons learned, I can’t help but stress the importance of proactive compliance. To avoid problems with the government, a business leader should set a standard of integrity that permeates every aspect of the business.

In the companies I build, we have a motto: We did the time so you don’t have to! I encourage our readers to learn early, and learn a lot to avoid government investigations. Remember, investigators indicted a former US President, and the son of a sitting President. Don’t think they can’t get you. 

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