Skip to main content

5 Trends to Watch in 2021 White Collar Defense & Special Investigations

  1. Health Care Fraud Prosecution – Watch for continued enforcement in COVID-19 related frauds, including fraud in connection with the sale of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), phony “cures,” and federal healthcare payments relating to federal recovery programs. As 2021 progresses, we may see a renewed interest in prosecuting individual actors, namely executives, not just entities, for healthcare fraud offenses.

  2. Large Corporate Foreign Corruption Practices Act (FCPA) Settlements – This is the continuation of a trend. In 2019, corporate FCPA enforcement set an all-time high with over $2.65 billion in penalties. Additionally, that year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposed the two largest FCPA corporate penalties, including the first billion-dollar settlement in FCPA history.

  3. Cryptocurrency Enforcement – Government agencies (and state attorneys general) are focusing heavily on this new area of technology, including the DOJ, the SEC, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Department of Treasury - including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Many agencies have been taking aggressive enforcement actions, while critics have decried regulation by enforcement. 

  4. Insider Trading Prosecution - Over the last decade, insider trading has been a key enforcement priority for the DOJ and the SEC and will likely continue to be one for quite some time. While the DOJ and SEC have been leading the charge in this enforcement area, with the advent of authorities granted under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, the CFTC has also become a significant player in the government’s pursuit of insider trading enforcement.

  5. Accounting Fraud Prosecution - We may see an increased emphasis by the DOJ and SEC in policing accounting fraud. In times of crisis and market volatility, there is a concern that publicly traded companies and executives could be inclined to manipulate earnings or engage in other accounting fraud. Before and after the Great Recession, there were several DOJ and SEC actions concerning manipulated earnings, falsified financials, and stock-option backdating. The stresses resulting from COVID-19 may result in similar activity, and the government may similarly respond with vigorous enforcement.

About the Authors

Greenberg Traurig’s White Collar Defense & Special Investigations Practice comprises over 60 lawyers, including a significant number of former prosecutors from U.S. and non-U.S. enforcement agencies, with a wide array of experience at the highest levels of federal and state government. We work tirelessly to deliver out-of-the box strategies and tactics with the goal of keeping our clients out of jeopardy. Leveraging the insights and experience of our government affairs colleagues, industry experts, compliance professionals, and litigators throughout the firm, we help protect our clients at virtually every level.