If an investigative team feels it has sufficient evidence, then the government agency will bring public charges. In civil investigations, the agency may bring either an administrative proceeding, or it may file a lawsuit in federal court. With criminal charges, the prosecutor may file a criminal information or complaint. Prosecutors may also convene a grand jury. In a grand jury, the prosecutors present evidence to members of the grand jury, then request those members to indict the person or the company.
In either civil or criminal investigations, investigators may request a judge to issue a search warrant to raid a person’s home or place of business. Citizens should expect that investigators will seize everything possible to help them build a case. They will take computers, cell phones, and all paper records that the warrant authorizes. The investigation will result in significant disruption to a person’s life; it could also obliterate prospects to continue business operations.
Later, government lawyers will schedule interviews and depositions. They will subpoena bank records and question third parties. They do not spare any expense in gathering evidence that will help them build a case. In order to lessen exposure to risk, many people within the organization will offer evidence to assist the investigation—sometimes crawling deeper into an investigative trap.
Investigators typically coordinate a strategy to undermine the business and personal life at every level. Remember the nature of a government investigator. Consider this analogy paraphrased from Aesop’s Fables:
The scorpion wants to cross to the other side of the river, but it does not know how to make it across. When the scorpion sees an otter in the water, it requests to ride across the river on the otter’s back.
The otter responds, “but if I let you get on my back, you’ll sting me and I will die.”
The scorpion responds, “why would I do that? I am asking you to help me.”
The otter agrees and transports the scorpion across the river. Just before the scorpion climbs off the otter’s back, the scorpion stings the otter.
The otter whimpers, “But why did you sting me? I helped you by bringing you to the other side of the river. Now I’m going to die.”
The scorpion responds, “It’s in my nature.”
Remember that it’s in the nature of everyone on the investigative team to convict people and businesses. People that build careers as government investigators want high profile convictions.
For this reason, business leaders and team members should adhere to best practices at all times.