Every business owner and high ranking employee is faced with a broad spectrum of decisions each day. This plethora of decisions may range from minor tweaks of internal policies to major commercial actions such as a merger or acquisition. In all of these, decision makers must consider the both the long and short-term health of their business as well as the effect the decision may have on their employees. Risk is an inevitable part of any business and there will always be some instances when a better decision could have been made.
In most cases, a bad decision could mean a potential financial setback for the company. But in the case of some highly regulated industries, regulators may also be looking over your shoulder preparing to bring federal criminal charges if the consequence of a decision can be construed as a violation of a statute or regulation.
You may remember that in 2010 there was an outbreak of salmonella that caused illness in a number of people and required a large scale recall of eggs from a particular producer. It seems that federal investigators are now considering whether they should pursue charges against this egg manufacturer.
The federal criminal investigation came to light as part of an ongoing civil trial. The judge in that case suspended the testimony from the egg producers noting that they were currently under criminal investigation. The egg producers had declined to testify at the civil trial due to concern that their testimony could be used against them in the criminal proceedings.
It is possible to violate criminal statutes in either our personal or professional spheres. But oftentimes, professional actions that could potentially violate the law are much more technical in nature and devoid of any malicious intent.
Source: CBS Atlanta, “Lawyers: Criminal probe targets egg magnate, aides,” Ryan Foley, May 16, 2012