By Lisa Lambert
(Reuters) - Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday laid out the Trump administration's approach to fighting financial crime, saying the government will focus more heavily on certain tax violations and that it is cracking down on securities fraud.
"We are using data analytics to more quickly identify, investigate and prosecute manipulation of the securities markets, and other forms of fraud that threaten the integrity of America’s financial system," Rosenstein said at a conference on white-collar crime in San Diego.
He added the Justice Department is working with the top U.S. markets regulators to aggressively prosecute manipulation and trading schemes.
Meanwhile, Rosenstein said the government will crack down on those who fraudulently fail to pay payroll taxes and cost the country tens of billions of dollars a year.
Rosenstein is mostly known for working with the special investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case. In his remarks, he did not directly address the ongoing investigation or President Donald Trump's ridicule of Sessions this week, but sought to allay concerns about the department's current state.
"You will not always agree with our policy decisions, and you definitely won’t hear this on cable TV, but the department leadership team appointed by President Trump is very strong on ethics and professionalism," he said.
Rosenstein also worked to reassure corporations, saying he intends to publish fewer guidance memos than his predecessors and wants "to avoid imposing penalties that disproportionately punish innocent employees, shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders."
Still, he said the private sector must monitor its own behavior, explaining that he expects companies to go beyond simply having policies to comply with the law, and make compliance part of their corporate cultures.
"If you want us to treat a corporate entity as a victim, you should act like a victim who wants to see the perpetrators held accountable," he said.
The department's emphasis on self-reporting and cooperation "has to be looked at in conjunction with the recent Supreme Court decision requiring whistleblowers to report directly to the Securities and Exchange Commission," said John Carney, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who is currently co-leader of law firm BakerHostetler’s white-collar team.
"If the new normal is employees going to the government without you then corporations need to decide early on whether to fight or to embrace the DOJ’s new policies proactively," said Carney, who attended the speech.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert in Washington; editing by Grant McCool and Lisa Shumaker)