Corporate Investigations Swiss Detective Agency
Updated: Sep 9, 2022
With corporate fraud on the rise worldwide, your company needs a partner with proven experience in counterintelligence operations. At our agency Swiss Detective Agency, we have the proven track record of success you need and are fully committed to helping you protect your invaluable company trade secrets. Don't wait for your rivals to use your own intellectual property against you.
Corporations today must protect their business and people from internal and external threats. It is critical that you have the ability to investigate allegations of fraud, intellectual property theft, financial crimes, and other forms of employee misconduct. Extensive investigations of an organization, business, or corporation are known as corporate investigations.
Some countries have laws that protect companies from corporate spying, but the laws are rarely enough to stop determined criminals and other bad actors. While the Economic Espionage Act is designed to prevent companies and other foreign entities from spying on businesses to steal intellectual property and other trade secrets, reports suggest that corporate spying remains a major problem for many companies. To protect your company's secrets and economic viability, you can rely on the proven private investigator experts at the Swiss Detective Agency to provide you with the effective corporate espionage investigation services you need.
The whole point of a corporate investigation is to find out if any kind of illegal activity has been committed by staff, management, or third parties. A corporate investigation usually happens after someone has reported a problem, with the goal of finding out:
• Exactly what happened
• The person responsible for what happened
• Why it happened or how it was allowed to happen
• Are we responsible for what happened or are we in danger because of it
Organizations will sometimes try to conduct their own internal investigation, but this is not a good idea. The resulting, usually unavoidable, conflicts of interest that arise from such an investigation, no matter how well handled by the organization, will fail to satisfy external stakeholders.
What is corporate fraud?
Many companies assume they are immune to economic "espionage" and trust their internal processes to protect valuable trade secrets. The reality, however, is that foreign governments and business entities are increasingly targeting sensitive business data. These competitors often seek your trade secrets – including valuable intellectual property – to eliminate your competitive advantage and gain an unfair advantage.
This type of fraud has many similarities to traditional fraud. Adversaries can use a variety of ways to obtain your trade secrets, including:
• Exploiting untrained staff, who may not realize the harm they do when they unwittingly disclose confidential information
• Exploiting technical vulnerabilities in your computer systems to steal sensitive data
• Using electronic eavesdropping technology to spy on your company or its executives
• Gaining access to improperly managed physical documents
• Physical evidence collection at your workplace
A corporate investigation is best conducted only by licensed private investigators such as our team. They are experienced in examining company financial accounts, assessing communications, and interviewing staff, and will even go undercover if necessary. Depending on the nature of the investigation, investigators will work with the companies' legal departments to collect and examine the evidence.
A corporate investigation is usually initiated by an organization not only to stop wrongdoing but also to demonstrate to staff, board members, clients, and authorities that they take such matters seriously and will not tolerate such behavior or protect the role. players.
Once the culprits have been identified, the necessary actions taken, and information related to the investigation provided to the board and/or authorities, the organization can salvage its reputation, restore integrity, and return to business as usual.
What type of things does a corporate investigation cover?
A corporate investigation firm such as the Swiss Detective Agency deals with all types of illegal activities and misconduct carried out by staff, management, and external parties. Basically, if you are under the impression that someone has or is currently in the process of doing something illegal and you want to know if it did indeed happen, what it was that happened, and who is involved, then it would be necessary to hire you would hire a corporate investigation firm such as Are They Safe to assist you. Normally a corporate investigation covers the following:
Violations regarding the law or other regulations – making legal problems worse can be avoided if the issues are investigated and the people involved, are identified. There are times when authorities will request a company to carry out internal investigations and there are times when a company will conduct an investigation out of their own, to demonstrate their compliance and cooperation with the authorities.
Data violations – the theft, loss, or hacking of data is a serious offense and an issue that is becoming an increasingly common problem for companies. Often, proprietary data loss is not because of sophisticated hacking but is rather the result of an angry member of staff or security privileges where an outsider was allowed inside the premises to get access to classified data.
Staff problems – these types of issues can be anything from a dispute resulting from the hiring procedure, for example, discrimination lawsuits, to employee misconduct. Usually, corporation investigations look into the following:
• Infringement of intellectual property rights
• Sexual misbehavior
• Violation of civil rights
• Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Financial misdemeanors – this is an incredibly common problem in many companies. In fact, more than 75% of staff members have admitted theft from their employer at some stage. The types of misdemeanors that corporate investigations examine include:
• Vendor fraud
• Money laundering
• Accounting irregularities and violations
• Missing inventory, unusual write-offs, and so forth
Intellectual property infringement – these types of corporate investigations could involve, as is very often the case, staff theft of intellectual property or simple corporate espionage.
Corruption – an organization’s business performance and public trust can be damaged by corruption. The things that an investigator will look for are bribes, inappropriate behavior by staff in relation to representatives or other companies, and public officials, as well as improper payments.
Defamation and libel – defamation and libel can include all types of things, from fraudulent reviews to false claims by competitors. Individuals involved will be identified by the investigators so that cease and desist papers can be served, the offending reviews removed, or other apt action taken.
Why you need corporate investigations
Recent reports suggest that the theft of intellectual property by foreign rivals costs businesses hundreds of billions of dollars/euro each year – and those estimates are only based on reported thefts. Many companies lack the tools and experience needed to identify such thefts and may not even realize that their trade secrets are at risk. And make no mistake: these thefts have a real impact on your business. They allow your business rivals to use your investment in innovation against you, making your company less competitive in the long run.
At Swiss Detective Agency, our corporate investigation experts can provide invaluable investigations with the tools needed to better protect your corporate secrets. We will also conduct extensive reviews of your firm's internal information security processes, as well as other areas of security concern. Our team of experts will also carry out comprehensive investigations necessary to help you identify breaches and gather the evidence you need to take action against any wrongdoers.
To keep businesses secure, corporations need a solution that will allow investigators to easily access and investigate claims, so they can get to the truth of the matter quickly and effectively to reduce the business impact and the potential cost of exposure.
• Shift to hybrid working models means people's devices are not always easily accessible
• Personal and business technology use is blurred
• Communication and messaging, often on mobile devices, are critical relevant sources
• Mobile applications that promote collaboration aren't always sanctioned
• Increased privacy concerns are being raised
Beginning a Fraud Examination
The investigation begins with a review of the known information regarding the scheme. Preliminary interviews will be conducted with any employees, customers, or suppliers who have come forward with whistleblower complaints. Financial records and internal materials related to their claims are gathered and analyzed.
Due Diligence and Background Investigation
Most perpetrators commit corporate fraud in response to perceived financial, personal, or professional pressures. The investigation is conducted to identify significant problems in the background of individuals who are suspected of participating in the scheme. If no suspects are known, then consideration will be given to employees in positions with the greatest opportunity to have committed the alleged fraud.
Investigators identify financial problems through a review of public records such as bankruptcies, liens, judgments, or collection suits. Conversely, lifestyle changes that might otherwise seem positive – such as the purchase of a new large house or luxury car – may also be scrutinized if those individuals appear to be conspicuously living beyond their means. Criminal records are reviewed for any recent arrests, including non-financial crimes such as assault, and drug, and alcohol offenses.
When an investigation is initiated, it is generally advisable to limit the number of people with knowledge of the inquiry. The circle of employees with advanced knowledge of a pending investigation should be kept as small as possible, so participants in the scheme do not have a chance to coordinate a cover story.
Fact-finding interviews are conducted with employees, executives, and external stakeholders to obtain all available information regarding the scheme. Contradictory or evasive statements may also be significant findings, but do not necessarily prove complicity. Witnesses inside the organization may be afraid to come forward, particularly if the fraud involved their supervisors or senior executives, but a well-run investigation can create a safe and secure channel for employees to share what they know without fear of reprisal.
Cultivating an Insider
For complex schemes, it is critically important to expose the entire network of people involved. In certain cases, this can be achieved during the investigation by cultivating an inside source. Lower-level participants may be willing to cut a deal in exchange for being allowed to keep their jobs and benefits. This is especially true of employees who were coerced or pressured by corrupt supervisors.
Certain types of corporate fraud – including kickbacks, collusion, and bribery of foreign officials – can be very challenging to prove without the cooperation of an inside source.
Even employees who know they are going to be terminated may cooperate with investigators if properly incentivized. Important witnesses can potentially be persuaded by the offer of a hold-harmless agreement protecting them from civil litigation, criminal charges, or financial clawbacks.
Confronting Complicit Employees
It may seem reasonable to immediately terminate employees as soon as they are implicated, but acting prematurely can have adverse consequences. Former employees – even the guilty ones – can prevail in a wrongful termination suit if the evidence against them was weak, circumstantial, or poorly documented in their personnel file. Rather than risk a costly settlement, the investigation should be allowed to run its course before any major decisions are made.
Formal interviews of the suspected participants in a fraud investigation are often deferred until the final stage. An experienced investigator will structure these encounters to create an environment conducive to a voluntary, truthful admission. If the fraudster sees there is no point in protesting their innocence, they may instead seek to offer self-justification for their actions, providing a full confession to a patient and methodical interviewer.
Litigation and Law Enforcement
Once a fraud examination has been completed and the findings summarized in a formal report, consideration can be given to the appropriate response, including employee termination, civil litigation, and notification of law enforcement.
Internal frauds that occur inside companies can include embezzlement, payment schemes, and financial statement falsification. Employees and executives may also become involved in fraud schemes with vendors, competitors, and other third parties, such as bribery, price-fixing, and industrial espionage.
Retaining an independent agency to handle the review is particularly important if there, are suspicions of fraud or financial improprieties by management or directors, or if questions arise about potential collusion within corporate security, compliance, or accounting departments.
Should We Cooperate With The Government?
Cooperation with a government investigation should not be interpreted as waiving all rights and throwing open the doors to the company, even if the company believes it has nothing to hide. As an initial matter, the company must fully and timely comply with all lawfully-issued government orders, including subpoenas.
Any other efforts by the company to work cooperatively with the government are purely voluntary, so what can be achieved by cooperating? Generally, whether or not a company cooperated with a government investigation will be a very significant factor for the prosecutor to consider in deciding how to resolve the investigation. That is, assuming wrongful and harmful conduct was discovered by the government, in addition to holding individuals responsible for their conduct, should the government file criminal charges against the company and, if so, what charges? or should the government consider entering into a settlement agreement with the company or perhaps not prosecuting the company at all? Whether or not the company cooperated with the government and the extent of that cooperation can be a very significant factor in answering that question.
Should We Self-Disclose To The Government?
It is exceedingly difficult for any company to decide whether or not to disclose to the government illegal activity uncovered through an internal corporate investigation. After all, corporations can be held criminally liable for the acts of employees and the resulting financial penalties can be severe. However, recent policy changes by the Department of Justice indicate that self-disclosure may in fact completely alleviate the company from liability.
What started as a policy the Department enacted with respect to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations, has now been informally adopted throughout the Department. The policy, entitled “FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy,” is designed to encourage voluntary self-disclosure by offering a “presumption of declination” for companies that voluntarily self-disclose and fully cooperate and remediate (all three are required). The bottom line is that the Department wants to reward companies when self-disclosure and full cooperation allow prosecutors to gather evidence in a more timely and efficient manner and to take investigative steps they might not otherwise have been able to take against the individual wrongdoers.
If you need to start a corporate investigation, contact us today by filling out the online form on our website or by calling the phone number: + 41 44 586 60 33. Our specialized corporate investigators can get to the bottom of any problem.
Swiss Detective Agency
T. +41 44 586 60 33