A commentator in an article written recently for The Street, a financial publication for investors, describes just how easily it can be sometimes for a corporate executive or other employee to become ensnared in a criminal investigation involving a white collar crime. Such crimes broadly encompass a wide range of alleged illegal business activities, including embezzlement, bank fraud, mortgage fraud and other matters.
What is a dire concern for many business people, as well as a possible consequence in a criminal investigation, is that they become persons of interest for even their peripheral and sometimes innocent involvement in a matter that prosecutors allege as a criminal activity.
That is far from uncommon, as investigators look to obtain evidence against any person in the investigatory chain that looks even remotely tied to an unlawful activity, even if inadvertently or only tangentially.
Take emails, for instance. The Street article discusses how even innocent and innocuous communications can look quite damaging in the rear-view mirror when in the hands of a prosecutor. As noted, they can “be made to look sinister and corrupt regardless of good-faith intent or meaning.”
So, too, can a business executive who is not directly responsible for accounting practices or decisions signing off on an accounting matter that can later be alleged as irregular. “More often than not,” notes The Street, “it is non-accountants who find themselves being accused of accounting fraud.”
A recipe for sliding deeper into trouble when targeted in a white collar investigation is to try to cover up involvement or discuss the matter openly with investigators. What The Street recommends, instead, is a prescription that will make immediate sense to many people.
That is this: Don’t talk to others about the matter, and contact a proven criminal defense attorney with a wealth of experience in defending persons against white collar crime allegations,
Moreover, make that contact the very moment your instincts tell you that you need to do so.
Source: The Street, “5 rules for protecting yourself in a white-collar criminal investigation,” Eric MacMichael, Nov. 14, 2012