03 Nov

Michael Volkov on Internal Investigations: Best Practices

Guest Post by Michael Volkov

In-House counsel and corporate compliance officers dodge bullets everyday as they stare down the barrels of aggressive prosecutors, regulators, civil litigants, whistleblowers, disgruntled employees and shareholders prodded by trial attorneys to file derivative suits at the drop of a hat. In the face of all of these risks, internal investigations have become commonplace and a standard defensive tactic for a company to regain some leverage, learn the scope of a potential problem and then develop a plan for resolving a particular issue.

All too often, companies follow the rote formula developed in the Sarbanes-Oxley era of the early 2000s. Those same formulas are being applied in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and in more discrete global anti-corruption, money laundering, export compliance and antitrust enforcement matters. Read More

04 Oct

Whistleblower Complaints: Fast Action Required

Recently I wrote about an internal investigation I did for a company which received a whistleblower complaint, sent to executives, the board of directors, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Upon receiving notification that allegations of fraud were being made by a former employee, management immediately started evaluating the claims. The board of directors began planning for an independent investigation.

This was the right thing to do, particularly as the SEC’s whistleblower program gives a 120 day window of time for companies to react to internal allegations of securities fraud. If someone reports allegations to a company, 120 days pass, and then the informant goes to the SEC, the SEC will consider the person making the report to be a whistleblower eligible for a bounty. Read More

05 Mar

Las Vegas Sands FCPA Investigation: What Did Management Do When they First Found Out About Allegations of Bribery and Corruption?

Earlier this week, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) announced in its 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 that it is the subject of an FCPA investigation:

On February 9, 2011, LVSC received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting that the Company produce documents relating to its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”). The Company has also been advised by the Department of Justice that it is conducting a similar investigation. It is the Company’s belief that the subpoena may have emanated from allegations contained in the lawsuit filed by Steven C. Jacobs described above. The Company intends to cooperate with the investigations.

Las Vegas Sands says that it is also the target of a similar investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Read More

29 Sep

Internal Investigations and the Use of Auditors and Accountants

When whistleblowers report potential ethics violations within companies, the first step the company must take is an internal investigation. The best internal investigations are independent and led by outside counsel, for a variety of reasons.

But what about the part of the investigation that involves analyzing accounting records, financial statements, and SEC filings? Management often wants to use internal finance professionals or their outside auditors for this task. It seems to make sense to utilize the expertise of people who are already familiar with the company’s finances. Read More