Fraud & Whistle-blower

Fraud

An employee engaging in unlawful conduct at work can catch companies off guard and upset the workplace in many ways, particularly when the employee is highly placed.  Quick, discreet action by management can go a long way toward preventing disruptions in operations and the spread of rumors and rancor.

Employers, from multi-national corporations to local businesses, consult with PII on allegations involving fraud, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, and sharing of trade secrets. Retaining PII as a neutral external investigator allows managers to avoid the perceived biases of an in-house investigation, especially for those who may be close to the suspected parties. With no ties to the company, PII’s objective analysis lends credibility to the investigation, no matter the result.

Whistle-blowers

Whistle-blower allegations are often explosive and difficult to investigate. When whistle-blowers come forward with damaging accusations, organizations need the perspective of a neutral investigator. If true, the allegations may trigger the need for significant institutional reforms. Even when false or exaggerated, they can unleash a public relations firestorm. In either event, the stakes are high.

PII has extensive experience assisting organizations facing whistle-blower concerns.  Often the allegations are entwined with less serious charges, requiring the investigator to develop an investigative plan that will focus on the key issues.  Retaining PII helps managers calm a crisis situation and resolve the matter quickly and efficiently.

Companies have sought PII’s assistance when:

• A long-respected office manager at a law firm was accused of skimming firm funds to underwrite a gambling addiction.
• The CEO of a major hospital was pressured by a board member to steer the organization’s business to the board member’s own firm.
• A high-ranking union official stood accused of extorting kickbacks from vendors seeking the union’s business.
• The new owners of a mid-sized defense contractor suspected the former owner of violating a non-competition agreement and stealing clients.

Case in Point: Fraud

A metals fabrication company in suburban Portland experienced a burglary at one of its facilities.  Although the losses were small, no sign of forced entry was found. Instead, evidence suggested that the burglars had a key to the building and a code to the alarm system.  PII was retained to investigate the theft and concluded that significant evidence pointed to the office manager. Before approaching the suspected manager for an interview, PII presented its concerns to the company’s legal counsel.  Management decided to confront the office manager directly with a question list prepared by PII.  When faced with the results of PII’s investigation, the manager abruptly resigned.

Case in Point: Whistle-Blower Allegations

A manager at a facility that repaired industrial machinery informed the company’s owners that his co-manager was improperly disposing of toxic wastes in violation of California environmental laws. The facility’s parent company, a British firm, retained PII to investigate. To resolve the matter, PII’s investigator needed to familiarize herself with the technical nature of the allegations, to understand the regulatory environment in which the company operated, and to determine whether the accusations had any validity. In the end, the investigation uncovered a tense and troubled history between the two co-managers and evidence of other workplace problems.  PII determined, however, that the allegation of environmental violations was unfounded.

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