Two years ago, The Legal Pulse featured a guest commentary by White & Case LLP partner Eric Grannon, who is also a member of Washington Legal Foundation’s Legal Policy Advisory Board, entitled Is an Antitrust Violation a “Crime Involving Moral Turpitude”? DOJ Thinks So. In the post, Mr. Grannon described a “Memorandum of Understanding” that subjects foreign business executives to exclusion or deportation from the U.S. if they are convicted of a criminal violation of U.S. antitrust laws.
Mr. Grannon and his White & Case colleague Nicolle Kownacki have authored a more extensive analysis of the Memorandum for the April 2012 issue of The Champion, published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Even though, as the article explains, the Memorandum has never been subjected to judicial scrutiny or gone through any public comment process, the Justice Department routinely uses it as a “carrot” to encourage foreign executives to plead guilty to antitrust violations. In each of the 50 cases where foreign executives entered plea agreements with the Antitrust Division, DOJ granted the defendants a waiver from the moral turpitude memo.
Grannon and Kownacki lay out a very convincing case in the article that criminal violations of the Sherman Act are not acts of moral turpitude, citing to compelling case law which supports their argument.
One would hope that at some point in the near future, a Justice Department which claims to respect civil liberties will take a second look at this Memoradum and either eliminate it or make substantial changes. Grannon and Kownacki’s article certainly provides the intellectual basis for doing just that.