When corporate leadership or employees are suspected of misconduct, the last thing the company should do is sit back and wait to see what happens. Conducting an internal investigation is essential to evaluating criminal and civil allegations and uncovering other issues that could threaten the company’s profitability and reputation.
The complex business litigation attorneys of Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson, LLC rely on their experience as former federal prosecutors to fully and independently investigate companies, determine whether any wrongdoing has occurred, and make recommendations for correcting the problems and limiting liability.
Why Do You Need An Internal Investigation?
If your company, its corporate leadership or owners, or employees are accused of wrongdoing, it could severely jeopardize the future of the business. Misconduct could expose your company to lawsuits, civil and criminal investigations, and tighter government scrutiny. In turn, these can become a significant distraction for your company, diverting precious resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
Moreover, a criminal or civil action, or even news of an investigation, could cause irreversible damage to your company’s reputation. Your business could also face legal exposure for failing to adhere to various regulations relevant to your industry.
Meanwhile, government enforcement actions and other unwanted attention could prove to be costly, and the repercussions may be broader than you initially expected. Other stakeholders and investors might be deterred from further involvement with your company and wish to divest or sever ties.
It’s a mistake to underestimate the severity of these matters. What might seem like a minor oversight could reveal a litany of issues that suddenly challenge your company. However, this can all be avoidable.
Knowledgeable legal counsel can conduct internal investigations aimed at understanding the nature and extent of problems that have either already been reported or which threaten to emerge.
In turn, your company can take appropriate action to discipline the individuals at fault, terminate their relationship with the company if needed, adopt and enforce new compliance standards and policies, and more.
These are only a few of the investigatory services we provide to our clients:
- Identify relevant documents evidencing actual or potential misconduct
- Interview witnesses both inside and outside the company
- Forensic auditing and accounting
- Analysis of the information uncovered through our investigation
- Creation of a written report that summarizes our findings and conclusions
- Detailed recommendations for the best steps to mitigate and correct the misconduct
- Compliance and policy guidance to prevent future similar issues from arising
- Disclosure assistance and negotiation with government investigators, law enforcement, and others
- Reputation management, public relations control, and communications with stakeholders
We do all this and more with an eye towards confidentiality and advocacy of your organization’s best interests. Because we are deeply familiar with the array of laws and regulations that govern your business, we know how to identify and fix problems before they become unmanageable.
What Might Prompt an Internal Investigation?
|Any form of corporate and business misconduct, from the executive leadership and ownership down to employees and third-party contractors, can cast a negative light on a company. Some examples of behavior that might require an internal investigation are:|
- White collar crime and securities fraud. These are among the most common improprieties and could include everything from mail, wire, and tax fraud to insider trading and other violations of securities laws.
- Corporate and employee theft. Theft can take many forms, including embezzlement or failing to charge customers for products and services. An investigation can prevent further theft and potentially save the company considerable sums of money.
- Contract breaches. A specific type of civil wrongdoing is a breach of contract. An investigation may reveal that your company is failing to honor its contracts, which might expose it to litigation and substantial court damages.
- Employment issues. Misbehavior between or among employees or between executive leadership and employees can land a company in hot water. This could include anything from sexual harassment to racial discrimination or workplace safety and labor matters.
- Other civil misconduct. Other types of civil misconduct may trigger a federal or state investigation or lawsuits such as regulatory violations, reporting oversights and missed corporate filing deadlines, violations of court orders, and more.
- Intellectual property abuse. If your company depends on its intellectual property to maintain its market advantage, a dishonest employee could jeopardize that. An example is an employee who sells company trade secrets to a competitor.
- Data breach. Your company may have reporting requirements if data is breached by an outside party. Data breaches routinely make the news and expose companies to significant losses and liability.
- Accounting errors and wrongdoing. “Cooking the books” and other accounting schemes are notorious for causing an investigation, and have even brought down some companies (remember Enron?). Even innocent mistakes could cause problems for your company.
- Issues with third parties. In some cases, misbehavior of third parties, such as contractors or vendors, could trigger an investigation. As an example, an employee may have an inappropriate relationship with a supplier that could embarrass the company.
- Whistleblower issues. A whistleblower could come into possession of damaging information about your business. For instance, violations of the False Claims Act could lead to an investigation if the whistleblower decides to go to authorities.
How We Can Help
Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson, LLC regularly advises and represents corporate management and boards of directors who face the above and related crises. Our clients retain us to conduct internal investigations on behalf of company leadership and to provide an outside, independent perspective on allegations of wrongdoing.
We tackle these investigations with a multidisciplinary legal approach that draws upon years of experience as former federal prosecutors.
|Any issues that warrant an internal investigation are sensitive in nature, and exposure of said issues could result in damage to your reputation and profitability. Discretion from all parties involved in the internal investigation is paramount.|
Our Georgia internal investigations attorneys have conducted discrete internal inventions for many businesses, and confidentiality comes first in every case. We’ll efficiently investigate all allegations or suspicions of wrongdoing, and identify solutions quickly, all while keeping your company’s business private.
When you work with Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson, LLC you can rest assured that the internal investigation will be discrete and professional.
Determine the Right Type of Investigation
Based on the allegations or suspicions concerning your business, we will conduct interviews and analyses to determine the correct type of investigation to employ. Having experienced legal counsel is necessary when conducting internal investigations because you want someone who knows exactly what to look for.
Some attorneys will only investigate the single allegation and call it a day, but experienced attorneys will know an allegation can be the tip of the iceberg with more undetected issues under the surface that could be exposed without warning. We will thoroughly look at your business and its inner workings to determine the right path forward. We leave no stone unturned.
Counseling Individuals Involved in the Investigation
|Some companies have never needed an internal investigation before and don’t know how to proceed, and others have experience but still want or need guidance. Either way, our attorneys will counsel all involved individuals to ensure everyone is prepared for any and all outcomes, and knows exactly how to respond.|
Whether you are preparing to respond to press inquiries about whistleblower allegations or are preparing to terminate an employee on the grounds of misconduct, we can help you be poised to move forward with confidence that you are making the right moves for your business.
Identifying and Collecting Relevant Documents
Our legal team does not cut corners – we will look at every single document to determine what is and is not relevant to the investigation. Identifying and collecting these documents not only gives us valuable insight into the inner workings of the business, but also informs us of the nature and scope of the issues we will be helping you address.
After our thorough analysis, we will provide an in-depth report on the findings of the investigation with clear legal advice on how to move forward. Our up-front hard work will make your job easier down the line.
Preparing for Potential Litigation
If the issues that we’re investigating cause your company to face present or potential litigation, we will make sure you are prepared. We will detect and determine if there is even the smallest chance that you could face potential litigation, and we will ensure you are prepared and know how to proceed.
The thought that you may face a lawsuit can be unnerving, but in reality, it’s far better to learn this ahead of time so that you can be ready for litigation if it does happen.
Of course, if there is current litigation on the table, we will also ensure that your company is poised to respond and prepared for every possible outcome. You can still get ahead of the game even if you feel behind right now.
Internal Investigation Process
The process of an internal investigation is thorough and in-depth. We take every step seriously, as they are all necessary for a productive investigation and for the best outcome for your business. We work through the following phases of investigations efficiently and with attention to detail.
1. Determine What Needs to Be Investigated
The first step is always to decide what exactly we will be looking at and what exactly we might be looking for. We will also determine the legal implications of the investigation and its potential findings.
What are the allegations? What evidence is there to support these allegations? Is there a chance that more allegations could arise? What legal issues could come from this?
These are just a few of the many questions we will ask and answer in pursuit of the truth at the root of the issue at hand. Our thorough investigation will start with the presenting problem and dive deeper from there.
2. Prepare for Interviews
|The second step is to prepare for the investigatory interviews. The preparation stage of interviews is important and should not be skipped. We will choose the right setting for the interviews that allow for confidentiality and so that the interviewee feels as comfortable as possible.|
The investigator will be prepared with well-worded questions that can help lead to the truth without leading the interviewee to a specific answer. We interview all involved parties, including the accuser, the accused, and witnesses. Thorough preparation will make the interviews run smoother and ensure that all grounds are covered.
3. Conduct Interviews
The role of an investigator in the interview is to determine and clarify all the facts and gather as much information from the interviewees as possible. We start with the basics by getting to know the nature of the interviewees’ relationship to the company, then dive into every piece of information they have to provide, whether it’s supported with factual evidence or not.
You need a skilled internal investigations attorney who asks the right questions to get the best answers. When you have a seasoned professional with years of experience as a prosecutor conducting the interviews, you know that you can expect interviews that leave nothing uncovered.
4. Prepare a Report with Findings and Recommendations
The last major step is for us to prepare a report with all of the findings of the investigation. We will create a report that details exactly what was proven or any additional concerns, and we will give our thoughtful recommendations on how to proceed and handle the issue carefully and professionally.
All of this information will be delivered to you in a polished report that will leave you prepared for what to do next, and how to avoid situations like this in the future.
Contact Our Internal Investigations Business Litigation Attorney
We understand what’s at stake when a crisis threatens to wreak havoc on your company. Now, more than ever, businesses are relying upon internal investigations to minimize and avoid the damage that can result from these scandals.
To learn more about how our business litigation attorney can help your company, give Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson, LLC a call today at (404) 891-9150 for our Atlanta office and (912) 867-9140 for our Savannah office.,