An investigation by the FBI, SEC, FINRA or other government agency is an alarm bell that might have everyone in your company on edge, but this is not the time for impulsive responses. Your reaction to this news must be coolheaded and deliberate if you want to avoid further trouble, which may include civil lawsuits and even criminal charges. Following are a few mistakes to avoid.
Saying too much
A cooperative mindset is natural in the face of a government investigation, especially if you have nothing to hide. There is a way to frame information, however, that does not open the door to unnecessary legal trouble. This is why you should consult with an experienced criminal law attorney at the earliest sign of an investigation and let your lawyer do the talking for you.
Government agents are highly skilled at interviewing suspects and persons of interest. A series of clever questions can confuse even an innocent interviewee, getting him caught in a lie — a crime in itself, even if the underlying allegations don’t stick.
Keeping your lawyer out of the loop
The attorney-client privilege is a powerful legal protection you should not take for granted. To provide the best possible representation, your attorney should know all of the facts and circumstances pertinent to this investigation, even ones that are potentially embarrassing or even incriminating. You don’t want your defense lawyer surprised by key facts at trial when you could have divulged this information months in advance.
Waiting too long to act
By the time you learn a government agency is investigating you, they have likely had their eyes on your company for a long time. Any delay on your part will only give them more time to mount a case against you. By addressing this matter with urgency, you can give your defense attorney more time to intervene on your behalf, helping you avoid a criminal charge or at least strengthening your position in the event this matter goes to trial.