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How Revised Sentencing Guidelines Impact CCOs

Earlier this month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to propose revisions to Chapter 8 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The amendments (which will go into effect in November, unless Congress votes to rescind them) focus on how compliance professionals report to the audit committee of a company’s board of directors, and the company’s response to uncovering criminal conduct—including hiring an outside adviser to examine the compliance program.

These changes could carry some profound implications for the daily lives of chief compliance officers, so let’s explore the history behind them and how significant they truly are.

First, the history. Chapter 8 was adopted in 1991 to give federal judges a framework to determine a fine for a corporate defendant based on the company’s criminal history and nature of the criminal activity. The Sentencing Commission then revised Chapter 8 in 2004, adding the criteria of an effective...

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