What can be more scary and frustrating than getting contacted by the government when it starts the investigation of the company? As a corporate company, your response plays a major role, what is getting investigated, what comes next, and how you will respond to it.
You will get to know how serious the circumstances are in no time, depending upon the tools that the government uses initially with the company. It doesn’t matter how it starts, various things are common as per the response of a company to a government investigation.
Some of the questions need to be asked initially when the investigation by the government in the company takes place.
Which agency is investigating the organization?
The first thing to know is the information of the agency. Once you know the investigating agency, start determining whether the case is criminal or civil.
For instance, the transportation department doesn’t have enforced criminal powers, but the Justice Department has regardless of the civil investigation which can be combined with a criminal investigation under the right circumstances.
How the government contacted you?
How the government contacts you play a major role. Here are the major keys the government will contact the organization under or any part of the investigation.
Grand Jury Subpoena
A criminal investigation is on its way and if your organization is a subject or target, bad things might happen. Adequately complying or getting failed while complying with a grand jury subpoena means obstruction of justice under the criminal charge. It also means the government is on its way with the kind of case it is getting.
Civil Investigative Demand
It is a civil subpoena given by the government to the company. There’s nothing criminal in it. A civil investigative demand can give commands to ask for interrogatories, documents, any combination, or witness testimony.
If there will be any failure in complying, it will lead the company to court sanctions. The government has the right to serve CID to any individual or business in any jurisdiction.
The company will be under the target if the judge is convinced by the law enforcement about the reason for the crime, and evidence is in the company itself.
While the counsel in-house should meet the lead agent and make sure the search will take place only in the locations listed in the search warrant, it is advised not to interfere with the warrant of arrest execution. Get the counsel outside on the phone without any delay.
This kind of investigation by the government is mostly done by the CID. Get to know what can be done while responding to this kind of request.
Call the lawyer associated with the government
It is better to do it within a day while receiving a CID. Usually, the CID responds quickly, and the deadline will have to be extended. It will not take place automatically; the consent of the CID attorney in charge would be needed.
Unless you are experienced enough to deal with government investigations and with the CID team that the company has given, let the outside counsel handle the task as they know what they are doing.
One essential thing to do on-call is to find out about the investigation as much as you can. What the investigation is about? Why is it happening? What is the role of the company in it? Are you involved?
Another major goal of calling is to get a good rapport with the government attorney, which includes your assurance that the company will let the investigation team know everything and comply promptly and in good faith.
It’s in the interest of the company to deal with the government properly and maintain the highest professional and personal standards.
Let the outside counsel involved
Unless you are experienced to deal with CID, consider calling the outside counsel who can help with the response. This might add the cost to what you respond to, but the bottom line is: Government investigations, either civil or any other are expensive.
You might get frustrated most of the time. Letting the experienced counsel handle things will serve as a buffer between you and the government which will be worth the cost.
Can the request scope be narrowed?
Another task is trying to the narrow scope of the request. Usually, a CID is broad in regards to the sought information and the covered time frame. Unless there’s a valid government agreement attorney to narrow the court order or scope, your duty might comply with the CID as written in a document.
The attorney mainly welcomes a request, as only the documents are needed by them which can be useful in their inquiry. Additionally, informing truly about what they are asking for in CID might or might not be useful can prove to be helpful to both sides.
You need to be on top of the information that you have and don’t have.
Consider going with the parallel internal investigation
Depending upon what the subject matter of CID is, and after having a discussion with the outside counsel, you might be interested in conducting your personal investigation.
Before taking this path, consider if the outside counsel or in-house will proceed with the investigation. If the outside counsel is already involved, allow them to handle the investigation. If this isn’t the case, engage them for such investigation.
The CID might get in public, because of the necessary disclosures if your company is traded, or due to the leaked information. This means, if you have got CID, you might have to deal with the bad outcomes.
Any kind of investigation conducted by the government must get the highest attention of the senior management, board of directors, and the legal team in the office.
Don’t take CID lightly. Unless you have a wide experience dealing with CID and the agency that issued it, your first consideration should be outside counsel. Keep yourself ready for a big-time commitment and the expensive procedure.