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Deferred Prosecutions and Corporate Governance: An Integrated Approach to Investigation and Reform

61 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2013 Last revised: 1 May 2013

Lawrence A. Cunningham

George Washington University

Date Written: 2013


When evaluating how to proceed against a corporate investigative target, law enforcement authorities often ignore the target’s governance arrangements, while subsequently negotiating or imposing governance requirements, especially in deferred prosecution agreements. Ignoring governance structures and processes amid investigation can be hazardous and implementing improvised reforms afterwards may have severe unintended consequences — particularly when prescribing standardized governance devices. Drawing, in part, on new lessons from three prominent cases — Arthur Andersen, AIG and Bristol-Myers Squibb — this Article criticizes prevailing discord and urges prosecutors to contemplate corporate governance at the outset and to articulate rationales for prescribed changes. Integrating the role of corporate governance into prosecutions would promote public confidence in prosecutorial decisions to broker firm-specific governance reforms currently lacking and increase their effectiveness. The Article, therefore, contributes a novel perspective on the controversial practice: though substantial commentary urges prosecutors to avoid intruding into corporate governance, this Article explains the importance of prosecutors investing in it.

Suggested Citation

Cunningham, Lawrence A., Deferred Prosecutions and Corporate Governance: An Integrated Approach to Investigation and Reform (2013). 65 FLORIDA LAW REVIEW (2013, Forthcoming); GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-74; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2013-74. Available at SSRN: or

Lawrence A. Cunningham (Contact Author)

George Washington University ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-0732 (Phone)

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