The goals of an internal investigation are to understand the nature and scope of the issue and to take necessary remedial action promptly. To be truly effective, an organization should aim to achieve these goals while minimizing the impact on the company’s routine business operations.
In multinational companies the regulatory and investigative climate is challenging. In cross-border internal investigations, legal, cultural and cost challenges may quickly multiple to the point where they threaten to undermine the company’s operations and even the investigation itself.
As a global investigative firm, Nardello is more and more frequently hired directly by corporate clients to conduct internal investigations on their behalf and in co-ordination with their in-house legal departments.
- Do no harm. For example, in anti-corruption investigations, investigators should move as quickly as possible to determine whether there are any existing agent relationships that give rise to concern, so the company can determine whether a payment freeze to those agents is appropriate. Failure to identify the need for a payment freeze can have catastrophic effects in the anti- corruption space, as any improper payment potentially constitutes a criminal act and can serve to extend the statute of limitations.
- Create and investigative plan. For example, given the breadth of data privacy regulations, it’s very easy for an investigation to inadvertently violate the laws and regulations of European Union nations if adequate care is not taken. The investigative plan should, therefore, be drafted in close co-ordination with the company’s counsel and include all of the following:
- Document and data plan
- Reporting structure and point of contact
- Local counsel
- Conduct the investigation. In most instances, for example, it is advisable to have at least two investigators present at any interview, so that one person can serve as a witness in the event any issues arise – including recantation – related to the interpretation of the interview.
- Report the investigation. The investigators should work closely with company counsel to determine the best way to report the investigation’s findings. In most instances, a written report prepared at the direction of counsel and in anticipation of litigation is the best approach. Such a report should directly address each of the previously identified objectives of the investigation. It must be grounded in fact, not speculation. The report is often as important as the rest of the investigation – a great investigation can be undone by a shoddy report.
Questions: Do companies today lack resources for cross-border investigations? Please share your opinion or experience about this subject