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Report: Lanny Breuer to Step Down as Head of DOJ's Criminal Division

Bruce Carton | January 24, 2013

In the year 2013, the U.S. government's securities enforcement efforts will be led by an almost entirely new group of people. The SEC's top enforcement figures--Chairman Mary Schapiro and Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami--have already announced their departures, and now it appears that Lanny Breuer, the Chief of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, will also be stepping down. The Washington Post reports that although Breuer has not announced when his last day at the DOJ will be nor his future plans, "it is certain that the prosecutor's days in office are winding down, according to people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter."

Breuer has served as head of the Criminal Division since April 2009, where he oversees nearly 600 attorneys who prosecute federal criminal cases across the country.  Previously, Breuer served in the White House Counsel's Office as Special Counsel to President Clinton, and as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. Breuer was also a lawyer for many years with the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP.

Breuer's impact in the securities enforcement field has been particularly visible in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act area, where the DOJ has been unusually active in recent years. In 2011, when the DOJ announced that it had obtained its first-ever conviction against a company (Lindsey Manufacturing) for FCPA violations, Breuer promised there was much more to come and that the Justice Department was “fiercely committed to bringing to justice all the players in these bribery schemes—the executives who conceive of the criminal plans, the people they use to pay the bribes, and the companies that knowingly allow these schemes to flourish.”

In a speech on November 8, 2011, Breuer generated considerable attention when he announced that the DOJ would “release detailed new guidance on the [FCPA's] criminal and civil enforcement provisions.” It took over a year but on November 14, Breuer and Khuzami jointly announced the release of a 120-page "Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."