Companies that find themselves the victim of internal fraud need to act swiftly in appointing the right advisors – including corporate investigators – and put in place a tightly targeted plan to deal with the situation, according to experts at a breakfast briefing at Addleshaw Goddard’s London headquarters.
Action taken in the first 24 hours after a fraud comes to light can determine how successful a company is in dealing with any wrongdoing. Acting promptly and appointing the correct advisors were the two key messages given to delegates.
Ian Hargreaves, Addleshaw Goddard’s Head of Fraud, Regulatory and Corporate Crime said: “It is very important to have the right partners involved, such as investigators. You really rely on them to track people down, establish their whereabouts, create profiles. It is generally investigators that supply this type of information. It is very important that you get the right ones.”
Ben Lowans, Litigation Partner, set out a number of key steps a company needs to consider in the first 24 hours of any investigation. These include:
Defining objectives – these could include recovering money, punishing the fraudster and avoiding bad publicity
Securing and preserving information – hard drives, paper records and electronic media
Checking the suspected fraudster does not still have access to company accounts
Appointing advisors, lawyers, investigators, document handlers
Assembling an internal team to deal with the case – generally the smaller the better
Putting together a PR strategy to deal with the press should they become aware
Deciding what external agencies need to be notified and when – police, regulators, insurers.
Lastly, he added, don’t panic.