Corporations are at risk for any conduct that violates federal, state or local criminal statutes. Corporations are legal persons, and as such can be convicted of, and sentenced for, crimes. Their officers, directors and employees are also at risk for violations of the criminal laws or of their fiduciary duties to the company. Employee conduct can be attributed to the company, creating corporate criminal exposure.
Any of these breaches can result not only in criminal culpability, but in reputational harm to the company. Substantive areas of risk vary widely and include financial or accounting fraud, import/export regulations, environmental, tax, securities, labor, employment discrimination, transportation, political contributions, foreign bribery or books and records violations, and more. Civil issues can implicate the criminal laws as well, for example, whistleblower complaints for misuse of federal funds or for certain securities law violations, civil shareholder suits, tax revenue matters or the handling of ERISA funds. Even if no criminal investigation exists, there are times when the company or its board needs to investigate internally in order to determine whether the law, or its own policy, has been violated.
Finally, a corporation may be the victim of a crime, or it may possess evidence of a crime. The company needs to know and understand the facts in order to take appropriate action with respect to the wrongdoer, and to pursue any appropriate rights it may have as a victim or as a witness while protecting its own proprietary information.
Calfee’s White Collar Crime and Investigations attorneys counsel clients to identify the vast number of regulations that impact their particular businesses and help design a compliance program that manages the risks associated with them. We assist our clients in conducting investigations resulting from identified risks, complaints reported through their internal compliance programs as well as by the U.S. Department of Justice, state attorneys general, other governmental regulators and private parties. Calfee counsels and represents corporations, their executive officers, board members and employees as needed. Although Calfee’s goal is to spare its clients the damage and reputational harm that can result from an investigation or trial, our experienced team of litigators is deeply experienced in handling such matters when necessary.