An investigation should never be initiated on a whim. But in a scenario where an allegation of wrongdoing has been made, a company needs to launch an investigation as swiftly as possible, with an internal inquiry often the first port of call.

Once an internal investigation is underway – perhaps as a result of allegations of bribery, sabotage, embezzlement, tax fraud, insider trading, antitrust collusion, workplace assault, environmental crimes, audit and accounting fraud or conflicts of interest – how it is conducted is of paramount importance, given there is always the potential for it to become an expensive and time-consuming endeavour.

To help ensure careful and discreet handling, appropriate investigatory models are required to coordinate those involved in an investigation, such as employees, internal counsel and forensic accountants, so that a speedy and satisfactory conclusion can be reached. Moreover, depending on the gravity of the allegation, the stakes may be high, so an investigation needs to be streamlined in order to reduce disruption to operations.

“Companies launch internal investigations for a number of reasons, but rarely is it due to a single event, unless identified as being so serious as to suggest a systemic failing that would be uncovered by an investigation,” explains Craig Weston, a senior associate barrister at Irwin Mitchell LLP. “Investigations are launched into subject matter across the breadth of a business, from regulatory breaches to employment matters to payment and invoicing anomalies and allegations of criminal conduct.

Apr-Jun 2019 Issue

Fraser Tennant