REPRESENTING CORPORATE EMPOYEES IN INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
White-collar defense attorneys with Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC provide able and aggressive representation of corporate officers and employees in internal investigations conducted by corporations. We protect the interests of individuals investigated for FCPA violations and other white-collar corporate misconduct such as
- Accounting fraud
- Securities fraud
- Tax fraud
- Embezzlement and theft
- Making false statements and representations to the government
Corporate Internal Investigations
On occasion, corporate management may learn of something that may indicate financial and regulatory violations that took place within the organization. Most corporations, including virtually all financial institutions have adapted compliance programs that establish protocols for such events. The protocol would require the corporation to conduct an internal investigation to determine the nature and the scope of potential irregularities. That is absolutely required in order to minimize or avoid potential criminal and civil penalties and protect the corporate interests. This also means that the investigation must locate a scapegoat from amongst its employees to shift the blame to.
In order to conduct the internal investigation the corporations will retain attorneys and investigators who will analyze the records and interview employees before preparing a report to the upper management with their conclusions and recommendations. In a way, the internal corporate investigations is not much different from a government investigation. It can absolutely lead to criminal exposure of those suspected of misconduct.
Why you need your own attorney
At the present financial and legal climate, the government’s enforcement of major anti-fraud and anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA has resulted in a huge number of companies adopting compliance programs and pre-emptively conducting internal investigations. If you are a corporate officer or employee and you are approached by a corporate counsel or an auditor regarding your professional activities, you need to realize that you are not obligated to discuss anything at all with them and that just because you are the corporate employee does not mean that these attorneys represent you. They represent your company and you should have your own legal representation before you meet with them.
We have seen cases where companies applied pressure to their employees to cooperate with their auditors or attorneys and encouraged them not to consult with independent legal counsel. If this is your situation, you must be very concerned as it indicates their true goal – to induce you to make admissions, which can later be used against you as they make you into a scapegoat. Speaking with corporate auditors may simply lead you to criminal prosecution down the line. Avoid that by speaking with our experienced white-collar attorneys immediately.
Employees approached by auditors and corporation’s attorneys have been consistently pressured into cooperation and given inaccurate information. You may be hinted to the fact that if you do not cooperate with the investigation you may lose your job. You may be told that if you do cooperate, your position may not be affected at all as the purpose of the investigation is only to set the record straight. You may be told that the communication between you and the attorneys is confidential. Some of these statements may be true and most of them are misleading and false.
It is true that in most cases if you refuse to speak with the investigators you will be terminated. But you are just as likely to be terminated in any event as the company’s compliance protocol would call for that.
The purpose of the investigations is to find someone who could be blamed for the misconduct that took place and then report it to law enforcement. Speaking with the auditors may result in criminal charges filed against you just as likely as speaking with FBI agents.
Anything you tell the auditors will be used against you as your communications with them may not be confidential. The attorney-client communications are privileged and confidential but these people do not represent you. They represent the corporation and are speaking with you on behalf of their client. They do not represent you or your interests. It is therefore not your right to asset the privilege of confidentiality. In fact, that right belongs to the corporation, which may waive it at any time.
The way internal investigations operate, the corporate counsel will investigate the matter, meet with persons of interest, take notes of all the statements, and then pass it on to the management with recommendations to involve the law enforcement. If you cooperate with the auditors without legal representation, you may be giving up your chances of avoid being singled out. Your statements may be misconstrued or distorted or straight out damaging.
As private defense attorneys we can prevent many of the adverse issues you may be facing. For example, by default the company will not defend you but we may be able to prevent the company’s lawyers from turning over to the government their notes of your interview by negotiating a joint defense agreement. We can limit the scope of the questions you are asked, prevent you from making damaging statements, and make sure your statements are not misconstrued.
If you are investigated by your company’s legal counsel, you may be at risk of serious criminal exposure. Do not speak with them until you call our experienced attorneys. We are located in New York City and we represent clients in internal and federal investigations across the country with great degree of success. Call us at any time to set up an immediate consultation.