The head of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to depart the agency after a tenure highlighted by multiple policy changes intended to empower corporate chief compliance officers.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. will step down by the end of the month, a spokesman for the DOJ confirmed. Multiple media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, reported the impending departure of Polite for a planned return to a legal career.

Principal Deputy Nicole Argentieri will lead the Criminal Division on an acting basis.

Polite formerly worked at Morgan Lewis prior to joining the DOJ in 2021. Before Morgan Lewis, he worked as vice president and CCO at Fortune 500 electric power company Entergy. He described this job as “perhaps the most challenging” of his career during his keynote address at Compliance Week’s 2022 National Conference, where his appreciation for those in compliance roles was a key theme of his remarks.

“I want to hear your compliance success stories: The transactions that were rejected due to the compliance risk, positive trends in your whistleblower reporting, and the partnerships that have developed between compliance officers and your business functions,” he said to the audience of communicating with his department at the DOJ. “We are also interested in how a company measures and tests its culture and how it uses the data from that testing to embed and continuously improve its ethical culture.”

In line with promoting the relationship between compliance and the business, the Criminal Division under Polite updated its policies to require CCOs to certify the company’s compliance program is reasonably designed and implemented to help detect and prevent violations of the law at the end of the term of an agreement with the agency. Though the compliance community had mixed reactions to the change—many fearing personal liability—Polite and other DOJ representatives insisted it was aimed to empower the profession.

“This announcement related to this additional certification is not intended to be punitive; it is a new tool in your arsenal to help combat those challenges,” Polite said in his Compliance Week keynote. “It’s the type of resource compliance officials, including myself, have wanted for some time because it makes clear you should have and must have appropriate stature in corporate decision-making.”

Other changes at the DOJ undertaken in recent months include revisions to its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs guidance regarding the monitoring of off-channel and cursory messaging by employees and executive compensation programs. The agency also updated its voluntary self-disclosure policy in an attempt to incentivize more companies to come forward with information regarding potential violations.

Under Polite, the DOJ staffed the Criminal Division with multiple former compliance practitioners, including former Hewlett Packard Enterprise CECO Glenn Leon as head of the Fraud Section. The agency recruited Matt Galvin, the former head of compliance at Anheuser Busch InBev, as its first counsel on compliance and data analytics.

Leon said during a fireside chat at Compliance Week’s 2023 National Conference the compliance ranks at the DOJ play a key role in the agency’s evaluation efforts.

“They will sit in on all the compliance presentations. They will ask many of the questions—many times taking the lead on those series of meetings—to really evaluate how effective is [the company’s] compliance program, how good has their remediation been, should there be a monitor, and even they will give us input as to the form of the resolution,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated July 20 to add Nicole Argentieri will lead the Criminal Division on an acting basis.