The investigative team starts gathering evidence in a number of different ways. The investigators may identify an employee, a group of employees, or other potential witnesses. If the investigators believe the prospective witnesses will help them build a case against the target, they will conduct an interview—either with or without someone to transcribe the exchange. Since the investigators would have to give any transcriptions of the interview to the opposing parties during the “discovery” phase, they may elect not to take notes or recordings of any kind. Business leaders may or may not know that the government has begun an investigation.
Other times, the government agents may want to show force. In those situations, the agents make a surprise visit, often loud, with an overwhelming display of firepower. Scores of people wearing dark windbreakers with large yellow letters (FBI, SEC, FTC, IRS, FDA, etc.) may show up to conduct a search.
Regardless of whether the government agents use subtle or strong-arm tactics, they always give a sign that more invasive activity will take place, putting a company and its employees in significant legal jeopardy.
The investigative tactics that the government agents use may dictate the appropriate response for people within the company. Our team at Compliance Mitigation offers insight that leaders may consider if they learn of:
Regardless of what approach the government investigators take toward a company or its employees, people should try to determine whether the agents consider the people or the company as:
If a person can determine the government’s posture toward the company from the beginning, that person can better assess the potential liability.
Our team at Compliance Mitigation encourages leaders of businesses to get competent legal advice—we are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice. All of the information we provide comes from our experience of having gone through government investigations and having interviewed thousands of people that have gone through government investigations. We offer insight that business leaders may consider to protect themselves against being dragged into government investigations.
Experience convinces every member of our team that, despite sound business policies and internal audits, investigations can come unexpectedly. With thousands of regulations, people may operate a business that violates laws or regulations; ignorance of those laws or regulations, however, will not immunize them against an investigation.
On the other hand, regular training that shows a good-faith effort to comply with applicable statutes and regulations may limit a company’s exposure. With our nation’s commitment to big government and mass incarceration, we believe every business is vulnerable. Our team offers general guidelines, and real-life experience of what happens to people who get caught up in a government investigation.