Corporate internal interviews
Sometimes when the senior management of a large organisation suspects that some of its employees have acted unlawfully, or contrary to internal policies, they may appoint external lawyers and forensic accountants, to investigate and assess the situation.
This process involves them reviewing emails, documents and telephone recordings. Usually, these investigators ask for interviews of managers and employees in order to obtain their accounts of what happened.
Interviews like this are called “internal” because they are part of a company-led investigation, the existence and findings of which may never be disclosed outside of the company. However, whether to alert a regulator or law enforcement agency to what its investigation has exposed is an option the company may exercise.
Being questioned on the record by a team of lawyers appointed by the employer/corporate can be a daunting experience. You may be given little information about the scope of the investigation; the allegations being investigated and whether you are suspected of being complicit in those allegations. You may be unaware whether a regulator is also investigating the allegations, whether the record of the interview will be given to any third party, and whether this record could be used as evidence against you in criminal or regulatory proceedings. You may be concerned about the risk of failing to accurately recall historic events, the risk of potentially incriminating yourself and what you should do if you are asked questions about complex documents prepared many years ago.
The dangers of attending such an interview without having taken legal advice beforehand are manifold. It is therefore critical to have confidence that the lawyer you instruct is an expert in acting for individuals in law enforcement and regulatory investigations, understands the ramifications of an internal interview, and will engage with the company’s lawyers acting in your interests. We understand how important it is that an interviewee gives answers which are not only accurate, but which place the interviewee’s relationship to the allegations within their proper context. Ensuring this is likely to assist the investigators.
We have many years’ experience in acting for interviewees in internal investigations, particularly investigations relating to corruption, fraud and financial irregularities, as well as whether individuals have complied with the professional or ethical standards expected of them. We have worked opposite numerous City firms who are instructed to conduct these investigations.
See here for a chapter in the GIR Guide to Global Investigations, “Representing Individuals in Interviews”, written by our partners, Jessica Parker and Andrew Smith which sets out in more detail the issues likely to be relevant.
- Acting for individuals investigated by their employers where there is no parallel criminal or regulatory investigation, into allegations of breaches of financial sanctions, breaches of internal ethical policies concerning market conduct, breaches of anti-money laundering law and guidance as it applies to the legal sector, and allegations of workplace misconduct including “#metoo” and bullying issues.
- Acting for numerous individuals interviewed in corporate internal investigations conducted by banks into alleged manipulation of benchmark rates (including LIBOR and EURIBOR), allegations of manipulation of the FX markets, spoofing and Cum-Ex.
- Acting for individuals interviewed in internal investigations conducted by companies being investigated by the SFO and FCA, including individuals in the Glencore, Unaoil, NatWest, British American Tobacco and Petrofac cases.
- Acting for numerous individuals in cross border corporate internal investigations involving foreign law enforcement agencies such as the US DOJ and others.