Care must be taken not to prejudice any future investigation, digital and hardcopy materials must be preserved, and decision logs kept so that further down the line you are able (if required) to articulate why one course of action was followed while other options were set aside.
Other factors to consider include the potential prospect of corporate liability and reputational damage and, if serious misconduct has occurred, the consideration of whether self-reports to regulatory or criminal agencies may be required.
Steps should be taken to ensure the “crime scene” is not tampered with and that witness recollections aren’t tainted by providing them with fresh information – law enforcement and regulatory agencies take a dim view of witnesses being rendered unreliable.
To help businesses ensure they have the right procedures in place to competently conduct serious compliance investigations, and to safely record the steps taken, Pinsent Masons has launched a customizable online document vault and assessment tool.
Vaultare provides pragmatic strategic information and guidance to help steer businesses through the crucial early stages of a wide range of serious compliance incidents.
Additionally, Vaultare offers a secure cloud platform to store and assess a company’s historic compliance policies, controls and procedures – providing a transparent overview of compliance preparedness, and helping to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
Policies and procedures are thematically stored in chronological order, allowing early impact assessments to be made by comparing the suspected conduct with the risk-based procedures and expectations in place at the time of an alleged breach.
Vaultare will facilitate the identification of any gaps in an entity’s portfolio of compliance policies, controls and procedures and, importantly, will send alerts to designated officers to remind them when policy refreshes or updated risk-assessments are needed – thus protecting against the “slippage” that may otherwise occur.
A customizable product, Vaultare documents the evolution of clients’ key top level messaging, policies, controls and procedures, allowing them to evidence a strong compliance narrative. It also provides links to a number of useful external sources, including a wide range of thematic guidance documents issued by regulatory authorities, an interactive map from Transparency International and an EU Sanctions map.
The platform will guide businesses through the component parts needed to assemble an investigations team that is fit for the specific purpose in hand. Depending on the seriousness of the inquiry, the team could include IT, internal audit, HR, data protection, legal counsel and forensic accountants. Vaultare outlines the types of functions those specialists can undertake.
We believe Vaultare is a valuable tool which centralises and simplifies compliance know-how and will assist businesses in developing a robust range of compliance programs across the risk areas appropriate to their business. And, should a serious incident occur, it will help organizations navigate through those first critical few hours to assist in protecting a business’s valuable brand and reputation.
Andrew Sackey is a Partner and tax and white-collar fraud specialist at Pinsent Masons.