When Your Company is Faced with a Criminal Investigation

Here are a few things you can do:

Hire Experienced Counsel. You want to make sure your interests are protected. Among other things, he or she can: (i) warn you against pitfalls; (ii) help weigh the pros and cons of different approaches; (iii) take the lead on dealing with the legal process, and (iv) communication between a lawyer and his or her client can be protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege.

Preserve Documents. Being accused of obstruction of justice personally can be the very worst result possible, as it can lead to charges against you personally. To prevent this, use your best efforts to ensure that all documents and evidence that may be relevant to the investigation or discoverable are preserved as soon as you learn of a potential criminal investigation.

Protect Whistleblowers. If an employee reports wrongdoing internally or directly to the authorities, he or she should be protected from termination or any other adverse actions that may be interpreted as retaliation.

Conduct a Swift and Thorough Internal Investigation. Immediately conduct a comprehensive investigation to allow you to assess the company’s potential exposure and decide on the best response to the situation.

Manage Your Public Relations Message. A criminal investigation can be devastating to public image. You can often help shape the message the public hears about the investigation, and thus mitigate the impact to your company.

Strengthen Your Compliance Program. A strong day-to-day compliance program can help prevent misconduct from happening in the first place. The government may view a robust compliance program as a mitigating factor. Sometimes establishing a program in response to an investigation may help gain leniency by showing that your company takes responsibility to redress past problems and prevent future ones.