The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it will eliminate or reduce charges against corporations if they self-report crimes.
The Department of Justice is offering companies "additional incentives" to come forward about wrongdoing so that "companies that do the right thing when learning about possible misconduct" can be rewarded. Corporations can expect repercussions if they do not fully cooperate, the agency said.
"Failing to self-report, failing to fully cooperate, failing to remediate, can lead to dire consequences," Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said in the policy announcement.
The change comes as Democratic megadonor Sam Bankman-Fried faces charges including money laundering and securities fraud during his time as CEO of cryptocurrency firm FTX. Bankman-Fried last year visited the White House on multiple occasions, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
The change shows an easing of pressure on big corporations by the Biden administration, which last year levied a tax on stock buybacks and imposed a minimum tax rate of 15 percent on companies making more than $1 billion a year.
Companies must come forward immediately, already have internal accounting systems in place, and engage in "extraordinary" cooperation with the investigation to lessen or avoid punishments.
Polite added that even if fines or jail time are still pursued, cooperating companies can receive 50 to 75 percent off the lowest suggested sentencing guidelines.
"The policy is sending an undeniable message: come forward, cooperate, and remediate," Polite said.
Companies that fail to come forward may see increased "criminal exposure and monetary penalties," the department said.