Are you a bank considering a multimillion dollar construction loan to a developer? Let us assist you in determining his or her credibility and character. Our researchers can verify litigation history, confirm overseas holdings, conduct interviews with former partners or visit foreign business locations.
Do you suspect someone in your organization is embezzling corporate assets? Our certified fraud examiners and forensic accountants can locate and follow the trail to the money. After all, it’s not about justice at this point; it’s about getting your money back.
Is there a substance abuse problem in your company? The safety of your employees may be at risk by the careless actions of an impaired individual. We can advise you on the implementation of policies to protect you and your company from this pervasive problem.
Complete Legal Investigations, Inc. can help you uncover and resolve the following challenges:
Due Diligence: At Complete Legal Investigations, Inc., we understand that due diligence is far more than running a simple database report. We know that financial investigations to offset risk are structured by the specific objectives of the lender, on a case-by-case basis. There are no two cases which are identical, no “cookie-cutter” due diligence investigations that will fit into a boilerplate report. If your company or financial institution is considering a large investment, loan, or acquisition, let the experts at Complete Legal Investigations, Inc. help you determine where to find the information you need to make the critical decisions confronting you.
- Compliance with regulatory requirements
- Documentation to substantiate approvals or rejections
- National and international “on site” verification and records retrieval
Case study (Due diligence): A South American investor was seeking approval of a multi-million dollar credit line from a local financial institution. Assets listed included a manufacturing facility in the investor’s home country, and the client was seeking verification of the facility’s capacity. An associate in Miami had contacts with a local law firm, who arranged for a reputable investigator to visit the facility. He confirmed its status with local business owners and the local Chamber of Commerce, and prepared a carefully written report with supporting photographs. The investor’s request for credit was granted.
Employee theft: From paper clips to intellectual property, businesses lose billions of dollars a year to unethical employees. The cause may be substance abuse or work dissatisfaction, but the result is the same: a strong hit to your bottom line. Internal investigations and interviews can identify the causes of shrinkage. Careful analysis of time cards or employee lifestyles may uncover suspicious activity. Undercover investigators can document specific acts of theft.
- Identify weaknesses in internal controls
- Recover stolen monies or property
- Administer discipline fairly, based on reasonable conclusions
Case study (Employee theft): A flooring contractor noticed that his inventory of marble tile was shrinking. He arranged to have surveillance cameras installed surreptitiously through the warehouse. One evening, an employee was digitally recorded removing several boxes of the tiles and placing them into his personal vehicle. The next morning, the employee was confronted by an investigator hired by the contractor. The investigator obtained a written admission of guilt, and the employee implicated a competitor, who had hired the employee to assist him on several jobs using the marble tiles, along with other materials stolen by the dishonest employee. The employee returned some of the unused materials he had stolen, and armed with the admission, the contractor’s attorney was able to secure a cash settlement from the competitor. The dishonest employee was terminated without recourse.
Embezzlement: Those who have access to the company checkbook have a variety of ways to siphon off money and avoid detection. Bookkeepers set up dummy companies and pay phony invoices to themselves. Managers negotiate favorable terms with a friendly vendor and receive a kickback. Accounts receivable clerks forge incoming checks for deposit to their personal accounts. Our certified fraud examiners (CFE’s®) can review vendor lists to identify questionable entries, and our forensic accountants can determine the extent of misappropriated funds.
- Identify questionable or “ghost” vendors
- Implement proper controls, separation of duties
- Reduce opportunities to commit fraud
Case study (Embezzlement): A trusted employee, who handled all financial matters in a closely held company, embezzled over $900,000 in just three years. Her thefts were uncovered when another employee began reviewing some cancelled company checks. The employee wrote checks to herself and to friends for personal expenses, and to petty cash. She set up phony vendor accounts for supplies, which she obtained herself through mail-order, and had delivered at a significant mark-up. The company owner failed to review the monthly bank statements carefully and did not notice the personal checks written by the employee, which she had removed from the bank statement when it arrived in the mail. After the embezzlement was exposed, the company owner established procedures that separated duties so that accounts payable and receivables were not handled by a single employee.
Substance abuse: This pervasive problem cuts across all social and economic lines. No one is immune and everyone pays the consequences. If you suspect an employee is abusing alcohol or drugs, that employee could create immeasurable damage to your company and staff by a single impaired action. We can assist you in developing strategies to identify possible offenders, and to avoid reoccurrences.
- Protect employees from impaired co-worker
- Initiate and enforce policies to address abuse issues
- Avoid costly litigation with appropriate discipline
Case study (Substance abuse): An employer had information that several of his warehouse personnel were smoking marijuana on the job. One of those suspected of being involved was a forklift operator. An undercover investigator was placed within the warehouse. Within a few weeks of the operation, the investigator documented numerous violations of the company’s drug policy, including a manager who was selling marijuana from her desk. But the investigation also disclosed numerous other policy violations, including the improper use of work vehicles and equipment, failure to complete mandatory inspections, and numerous safety violations. These collateral issues represented significant risks to the organization, which could have resulted in the death or serious injury of an employee, and the resulting liability would have had catastrophic results for the company.
Workplace violence: An employee with an anger problem introduces the terrible potential for violence at work. Any threats or attempts at violence must be taken seriously, and immediate action is required. Comprehensive interviews of witnesses can document the incident or threat for analysis by management. The offending employee might need to be escorted from the premises or be required to participate in an anger management program, with benchmarks established for continued employment. Was the incident overstated by the alleged victim? Is there a history of trouble between the antagonists? Interviews can isolate specific facts and reveal the truth.
- Avoid potential disaster by timely action
- Impartial investigation assures fair conclusion
- Offer appropriate assistance where needed
Case study (Workplace violence): A company owner was told by an employee that another employee had threatened to kill him. He brought in the second employee, who admitted he had a heated argument with his co-worker, but denied any threats of violence. The owner sent the suspected employee home and suspended him, with pay, for several days, instructing him not to return to the workplace until he was contacted. Concerned about the incident, the owner contacted an outside investigative agency who interviewed the alleged victim and several co-workers. The co-workers, who were nearby when the argument occurred, denied hearing any threats, but acknowledged the argument was intense. The victim maintained his version. When the suspected employee was interviewed at his residence, he explained that the alleged victim had been briefly involved in an extramarital affair with the employee’s wife, who had recently divorced him. He admitted fostering resentment toward the alleged victim, but denied threatening to kill him, and was in counseling personally to deal with the divorce. After several days of cooling off, both the alleged victim and the suspected employee were brought in to the owner’s office and resolved their differences. The alleged victim admitted he had overstated the threat and felt badly about his involvement. Both employees agreed to temporary work reassignments to avoid daily contact.
Harassment: There’s nothing funny about inappropriate jokes aimed at co-workers or subordinates. But is it harassment? Is a female employee being pressured by a supervisor for an intimate relationship? Is a foreman taking wrongful action against a particular worker for whom he has a grudge? Careful interviews and complete documentation can help you avoid a costly and damaging lawsuit.
- Impartial third-party investigation protects against litigation
- Document inappropriate activity and violations of policy
- Determine extent of actual problem
Case study (Harassment): A female employee complained about a manager who was making sexual jokes about her in small gatherings of other employees. She felt the problem began when she rebuffed the manager’s efforts to renew a relationship. The problem had become so difficult for her that she had threatened to hire an attorney. Concerned about potential claims of bias, her employer hired an outside investigator to conduct interviews with the female employee and her co-workers. The interviews disclosed that this was an ongoing pattern of behavior for the manager, and the investigation expanded to a former employee, who claimed she left the company after the male manager made threats against her to comply with his sexual requests. The manager’s computer was examined after the office had closed one evening (the company had the required authorization to conduct such an examination), and an analysis disclosed files of pornographic images and video clips, some violent in nature. The manager was interviewed and provided a written admission to the knowing violation of company policies pertaining to the pornography on his computer. He denied the allegations of harassment, but did admit to making sexually explicit comments about his direct report to her co-workers, also in violation of written company policy. He was terminated without further incident.
Policy Compliance: Are your employees in compliance with policies that were developed to protect against claims of bias, harassment or conflicts of interest? Complete Legal Investigations, Inc. provides compliance investigations that ensure that employees, managers and executives are not compromising your company’s integrity and viability. Inappropriate relationships with co-workers, vendors or outside contractors jeopardize your company’s perception in the marketplace and negatively affect profitability and shareholder value.
- Impartial outside investigation ensures fairness
- Failure to enforce policies creates perception of partiality
- Ensure that discipline is commensurate with infraction
Case study (Policy compliance): A managing partner suspected that a direct report, a candidate for partner, was involved in an extramarital affair with an assistant, in violation of written company policy. An out of town visit to a regional office was arranged, and the suspected employee arranged for his assistant to travel with him. The managing partner arranged for an investigation, and three investigators observed the suspected employees having a romantic dinner together, holding hands and engaging in open displays of affection. When the employees returned to the hotel for a late check-in, they arranged for different rooms, but the investigators noticed that all their luggage was placed on a single cart. Two investigators accompanied the employees, the bell captain and the luggage cart into the elevator. The man exited on one floor, the woman, the bell captain and the luggage exited on another, and the investigators were able to observe the man quietly enter the woman’s room twenty minutes later, where he stayed for several hours. This was sufficient to document the improper relationship and resulted in the dismissal of the employees for violating company policy. The message to the company’s employees was that policies would be enforced uniformly, and that no one was above discipline.