Conducting Internal Investigations when Corporate Managers Face Charges
An employee accused of wrongdoing and potentially facing criminal or civil charges can put an entire organization in jeopardy. The failure of even one person to comply with governmental regulations or maintain corporate compliance rules and guidelines necessitates internal investigation.
Common Internal Misdeeds
It is a reality that a company's employees – even trusted employees – sometimes do things that jeopardizes their company. Awareness of the most common misdeeds performed by managers, high level executives and other trusted members within an organization is the first step to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Such infractions often include the following:
- Accounting fraud
- Theft of physical or intellectual assets
- Harassment, threats or other forms of inappropriate personal behavior
- Failure to comply with government regulations
As soon as someone in your organization is accused of wrongdoing, address the situation immediately. Just like in fighting a disease, the earlier a problem is detected and addressed, the more likely it can be solved.
- Suspend all normal document and data destruction practices: Preservation of all written and recorded data is a key to any internal investigation and must begin immediately. This includes holding on to email chains and computer data, as well. Once you have established the scope of the investigation, you can limit the hold to documents and data that may be relevant to the investigation. At first, however, the hold should be all-encompassing.
- Collect written and recorded data: Cast your net wide and narrow the focus later on. Better to collect too much information than too little at the beginning. If a governmental agency becomes involved at a later date, missing documents may give your organization more trouble than the reason for the initial investigation.
- Interview all involved parties and witnesses: At the onset of the investigation, it is important to avoid pointing fingers. Collect as much relevant input as you are able in order to obtain an accurate assessment of the situation before proceeding. Recordation of the interviews may not be permissible so have a second person present who is willing to testify, if necessary, about the conduct and contents of the interviews.
A Lawyer can Help
An internal investigation, if not properly handled, can not only compromise the company's ability to effectively respond to the charges, but it can also disrupt its day to day operations. Thus, it is important to proceed promptly, but also deliberately.
If a member of your organization is facing charges, or rumors of misconduct come to your attention, consult an experienced lawyer knowledgeable about internal investigations. Issues such as the time of disclosure to governmental agencies, divulging privileged information and preserving evidence require the expertise of a skilled and seasoned lawyer.
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Corporations, owners, and executives in Kentucky and throughout the United States rely on our dedicated team of defense lawyers when facing state and federal inquiries and investigations. Companies that become the target of alleged civil and/or criminal allegations can rest assured that our firm is primed to handle investigations from any agency.