What Happens During a Corporate Investigation?
Oberheiden P.C.’s Former FBI Agents and Top-Notch Professionals are Available to Rescue, Protect, and Defend Your Business. Our Nationwide Legal Team Represents Companies in Corporate Investigations Across the United States.
All companies are subject to certain factors that are beyond their control. If you are the owner of a company, a compliance officer, or a member of the board of a corporate organization, it is almost inevitable that at some point you will need to deal with some form of litigation, employee crisis, business interruption, or allegation of misconduct. This article, co-written by the former federal prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents at Oberheiden P.C., offers some insights into the purpose, process, and possible outcomes of corporate investigations triggered by these types of events.
Why Work with Oberheiden P.C.?
Oberheiden P.C. is a nationwide federal defense and compliance law firm. In addition to our senior attorneys, our team includes several former agents with the FBI who have decades of investigative experience. In contrast to typical compliance vendors, Oberheiden P.C. offers top-notch professionals and former FBI agents; and, as a law firm we are able to guarantee that all of our work product and recommendations will be protected by the attorney-client privilege.
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This can become very important when, for example, an internal compliance officer or human resources (HR) director is attempting to handling an issue on their own and discovers that some form of fraud or other serious misconduct has indeed been committed. In this circumstance, these individuals will be subpoenaed by the FBI or the U.S. Attorney’s Office (and possibly also by opposing counsel in ensuing civil litigation). They have no privilege to invoke, they can’t refuse to answer, and they must describe the problems as they found them. However, if you engage a law firm to conduct the investigation, all findings from the investigation are privileged, and you will not have to disclose anything uncovered during the investigation to the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or opposing counsel.
At Oberheiden P.C., we also offer:
- Extensive Experience with Corporate Investigations
- Former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Lawyers
- Former IRS, DEA, DOD, DOJ, and OIG Agents Who are Available Nationwide
- A Proven Track Record of Protecting Clients Served with Federal Target Letters, Subpoenas and Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs)
- A Track Record that Includes Never Losing a Federal Employment Case
- A Track Record that Includes Defending in all 50 States in Hundreds of Federal Cases
What is the Purpose of a Corporate Investigation?
Corporate investigations are intended to confirm or reestablish a business’s compliance with state and federal regulations, often in response to a federal subpoena or CID, or in some cases in response to complaint filed against the company or its officers. From the company’s perspective, the goal of an internal investigation is always to identify and fix potential compliance issues in an effort to give the company’s owners, its board, or law enforcement authorities reassurance that any and all potential issues have addressed; and, therefore, that enforcement action, civil litigation, and criminal prosecution are all unwarranted.
Let’s consider some hypothetical examples:
Example 1: ABC Company identifies irregularities in its accounting department. Since it can be difficult in this type of situation (involving potential fraud and misconduct) to know whom to trust and whom to investigate, ABC company engages Oberheiden P.C. as outside counsel to investigate objectively, efficiently, and discreetly. In this example, our former FBI agents would likely interview key witnesses, review email communications, analyze bank transactions, and utilize various other forensic techniques to get to the bottom of the issue, and then our attorneys would report our firm’s recommendations for remedial action to ABC Company’s owners or board of directors.
Example 2: Each year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DOJ, and numerous other federal agencies issue subpoenas to companies and their owners in order to investigate allegations of fraud and misconduct. XYZ, Inc., a medical laboratory services provider, has received a subpoena from the FBI. It promptly engages the law enforcement experts at Oberheiden P.C. to conduct a voluntary self-audit in order to ensure that any and billing errors have been corrected before the government is forced to expand its probe and explore the possibility of filing criminal charges.
Example 3: ABC Corp. is facing an HR crisis. Employment disputes are common; but, in this case, what initially appeared to be a manageable complaint has quickly turned into wild accusations, public allegations, and the very real potential for hostile litigation. Instead of letting the issue escalate further, ABC Corp. engages Oberheiden P.C. to investigate. Our former FBI agents are on the premises within 24 hours, and our attorneys are quickly able to offer a solution that satisfies everyone involved.
While these are all hypothetical examples, Oberheiden P.C. has assisted clients across the country in scenarios similar to those described above (among many, many more). By making sure that voluntary efforts to curtail and correct issues prevent regulatory boards, government agencies, and private parties from continuing to pursue allegations, we have had significant success protecting companies facing an extremely broad range of circumstances nationwide.
The Five Steps in a Corporate Investigation
Every corporate investigation follows the same basic sequence of events. The company becomes aware of a problem, and then hires a professional team like Oberheiden P.C. to identify and fix any previous or ongoing compliance issues. Once this has been done, the company provides reassurance of compliance—either to its board, its owners, or to government agencies—in order to mitigate any risk of potential liability or prosecution.
1. Identification of a Potential Compliance Issue
Most corporate investigations begin when a company becomes aware of a potential legal issue: a pharmacy may notice theft of inventory; the chief compliance officer of a hospital may need help dealing with a hostile employee; or, a business may find out that it has been implicated in some form of fraud. In other cases, however, companies can be made aware of potential problems when they receive a subpoena, CID, notice of a lawsuit, or some other form of formal complaint.
2. Hiring a Professional Team
Aware of the problem, the company’s owners must choose to either (i) handle the issue internally, (ii) engage a compliance vendor, or (iii) hire an outside law firm. As discussed above, engaging an outside law firm offers several important advantages: the firm’s attorneys and investigators are untainted and uninvolved in the creation of the problem, their experience allows for quick identification of any and all compliance issues, and all of their work and findings are non-discoverable and protected by the attorney-client privilege.
3. Identifying the Causes of Non-Compliance
The actual work begins with getting to know the facts, the key players, the company’s representatives, and, of course, the compliance issues at hand. When we are engaged to conduct a corporate investigation, upon arriving at our client’s location we will meet with the company’s compliance officer or owners to learn their perspective on the situation and to discuss a comprehensive plan of action. We will also discuss the appropriate tools for determining the severity and pervasiveness of the issue(s), including witness interviews, reviewing email communications, and other tactics which our investigators honed over in years of frontline service with the FBI and other federal investigative agencies.
4. Fixing the Problem
Once we have identified the problem and its origin, we will provide recommendations to the company’s compliance officer, board, or owners regarding how to fix the problem effectively. For example, in a situation involving allegations of sexual harassment, we may recommend improving or replacing the company’s existing employment policies, and disciplining, or possibly terminating, the perpetrator. If a company contacts us regarding concerns about irregularities or potential fraud in its accounting department, we will provide custom-tailored recommendations based on the specific cause of the issue (e.g. inadequate staff training, lack of policies, failure to appoint a compliance officer, or outdated or neglected internal reporting mechanisms).
5. Providing Reassurance
Remedial action must be designed to allow the company to state that its investigation not only discovered the problem and fixed it, but also resulted in the institution of new protections and controls to prevent recurrence moving forward. Everyone can make a mistake. Even the government allows businesses to be imperfect. However, no one will forgive the ongoing repetition of errors after an instance of non-compliance has been uncovered. For example, if your business is subject to a False Claims Act investigation, a voluntary corporate investigation will go a very long way to appeasing the government—as long as you can truthfully and compellingly convince the government that your company has adopted policies and procedures to prevent future violations.
Oberheiden P.C.’s Team of Professionals is Available to Conduct Corporate Investigations Across the United States
Oberheiden P.C. protects businesses and their owners by utilizing the experience experienced federal lawyers and highly-decorated former law enforcement experts who have decades of first-hand knowledge gained at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and other federal and state agencies. Our corporate investigations team includes:
- Dr. Nick Oberheiden is the founder and lead attorney at Oberheiden P.C. Nick offers corporate clients, board members, and executives deep insights based on a distinct track record of effectively protecting his clients against allegations of fraud, misconduct, corporate compliance violations, and federal offenses.
- Chris Quick is a former Supervisory Special Agent at the FBI and a former Special Agent with the IRS Criminal Division. He has a keen interest in identifying and eliminating instances of corporate fraud, employee misconduct, tax fraud, mail fraud, health care fraud, and accounting fraud through targeted corporate internal investigations. An absolute pro when it comes to law enforcement and internal investigations, Chris has an established track record of efficiently fixing problems before they escalate.
- Ray Yuen is a recently-retired former Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI who has close to three decades of experience conducting witness interviews, executing law enforcement tactics and strategies. He has a demonstrated track record in the areas of financial crimes, international bank transactions, and corporate fraud. Ray served the FBI in Washington D.C., New York, Hawaii, and overseas.
- Gamal Abdel-Hafiz is a former Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI whose accomplishments have been featured in several documentaries and other portrayals. Gamal understands how to shield businesses and individuals against financial crimes investigations, including those involving accusations of accounting fraud, health care fraud, mail and wire fraud, and international money laundering.
- Michael Koslow is a former Supervisory Special Agent with the DOD’s Criminal Division. He has detailed knowledge in the areas of federal contracts, federal program fraud, health care fraud, and corporate integrity. Michael’s focus lies in defense contract compliance, health care compliance, and the defense of public corruption allegations.
- Randall Till is a former Inspector-in-Charge of the USPIS. He has supervised some of the largest corporate investigations in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice involving company blackmailing, extortion, terrorist threats, and financial crimes.
- Dennis Wichern is a former Special Agent in Charge at the DEA. With 29 years of DEA experience, Dennis has extensive knowledge in the area of controlled substances compliance and regularly advises pharmacies, hospitals, and cannabis entrepreneurs to ensure their compliance with the federal Controlled Substances Act.
- Roger Bach oversees and coordinates all former federal agents and expert consultants at Oberheiden P.C. Roger spent close to three decades with the DOJ as a Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent in its Office of Inspector General (OIG). Roger has substantial experience in the areas of health care compliance and fraud investigations, witness interviews, evidence gathering, counterintelligence, and achieving companies’ compliance goals.
Contact the Corporate Investigations Team at Oberheiden P.C.
Contact Oberheiden P.C. today to ensure that your business’s future is in the hands of true professionals. Don’t let competitors, former employees, or corrupt partners jeopardize your reputation, brand, and financial stability. Ask the former agents at Oberheiden P.C. how to best address your company’s compliance needs—call 214-692-2171 or request a free case assessment online now.