Publicly held companies often have conflicts and crises that demand an international investigation. Oftentimes, such organizations lean on law firms to conduct these investigations. Sometimes the expertise of an attorney or a team of attorneys is required in response to “up the ladder” style reports from whistle blowers, auditors and others. Internal investigations are also necessary as a means of responding to regulatory enforcement activities.
Whenever an internal investigation is conducted by a team of attorneys, they must be cognizant of the fact that a series of ethical and strategic elements typically arise. Oftentimes, these are the direct result of a whistle blower’s actions. It is up to the attorneys to navigate these sensitive issues in professional, respectful and moral manner.
In other instances, attorneys provide legal counsel to committees or directors while an internal investigation is being performed. Their knowledge of the law’s minutia helps publicly held companies in a number of legal contexts. For example, a group of experienced attorneys can perform an exhaustive internal investigation of publicly held company’s committees or records in an effort to have a wide range of legal actions dismissed.
Other issues that attorney led internal investigations can resolve include employee and officer misconduct, financial fraud, conflicts of interest, insider trading, FCPA issues, misappropriation of assets, bribery, bid rigging, price fixing, counterfeiting, embezzlement and much more. Highly trusted attorneys are also capable of representing the corporate executives of publicly held companies during internal investigations conducted by outside sources such as an Audit Committee Counsel.
A well-seasoned legal team is particularly valuable to conduct an internal investigation as a key component of a coordinated defense when the prospect of a criminal inquiry is raised. Publicly held companies often desire the assistance of attorneys to conduct an investigate of such an alleged wrongdoing and to subsequently provide advice regarding the next step. This is a critical service as it might result in the reporting of a wrongdoing to law enforcement authorities.
Regardless of the type of internal investigation that attorneys undertake, they must go to great lengths to draft investigation plans that are uniquely tailored to the idiosyncrasies of each publicly held company. A team of experienced attorneys will go out of their way to work in unison with the company’s already existing internal audit staff in an effort to maximize the internal investigation’s efficiency and accuracy.