Corporations regularly face a myriad of situations that require investigation and fact-finding. An anonymous caller, for example, calls the company fraud-line alleging that an employee may be receiving bribes from a vendor. A government agency serves a subpoena seeking business and sales records. The company receives a credible threat of litigation. Whatever triggers an investigation, it is important that the investigation be conducted competently and efficiently.
A thoughtful and carefully structured approach to investigations is essential. Severe consequences beyond “losing the case” may result if the matter is not handled appropriately, including unintentional waiver of the attorney client privilege, spoliation sanctions, adverse jury instructions, obstruction of justice convictions, and damage to corporate reputation.
This article outlines several fundamental steps that should be considered in a typical corporate internal investigation. This article is intended to serve as a general checklist. It does not thoroughly discuss all issues related to corporate internal investigations, and is not intended to be legal advice for any specific situation. The views expressed here are solely the views of the authors and not of their firms.
Geographical Considerations. In the current global marketplace one of the first considerations is the geographic scope of the investigation. Some of the key issues when foreign operations are involved include: a) in which countries are the people, documents and data located; 2) the U.S. parent company’s degree of control over those operations; 3) foreign laws and regulations that impact aspects of investigations, such as conducting interviews or accessing and analyzing business or personal information maintained in other countries; and 4) U.S. laws that apply in foreign jurisdictions.