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US outlines new policy for investigating corporate executives

[NEW YORK] The US Department of Justice's No 2 official was to lay out the rationale on Thursday behind a revised policy for prosecutors to focus on wrongdoing by corporate executives, after criticism they had failed to do so, especially in the 2008-09 financial meltdown and housing crisis.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates was scheduled to deliver a speech on white-collar crime at 12:45 pm (1645 GMT) at New York University School of Law.

On Wednesday, Ms Yates sent a memo to federal prosecutors across the United States which said that in future investigations a company would not receive any credit for cooperating unless it disclosed all relevant facts about the people involved in suspected wrongdoing or crimes.

Corporations put a high value on getting credit for cooperating with prosecutors because that can mean lower fines or less serious charges against the business itself.

"It's all or nothing," Ms Yates planned to say, according to excerpts of the speech released by the Justice Department. "No more picking and choosing what gets disclosed. No more partial credit for cooperation that doesn't include information about individuals."

Ms Yates' memo also said that corporate investigations would focus from the beginning on individuals, rather than focus solely on wrongdoing by the corporation.

The written changes codify some practices that Justice Department officials have been pushing already, especially after criticism by lawmakers and the general public that the government has not investigated individual executives vigorously enough about their conduct in the lead up to the global financial crisis.

REUTERS