Global Investigations and Anti-Corruption

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Companies and executives face increasing scrutiny from authorities in the United States and around the world. Irell & Manella LLP’s Global Investigations and Anti-Corruption Practice Group has the experience and expertise to help clients navigate criminal, civil and regulatory investigations wherever they arise. Led by a former senior prosecutor in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) unit of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the group has unparalleled expertise in all aspects of FCPA compliance, investigations and enforcement, and should be your first choice for counsel in enforcement proceedings by the DOJ, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other domestic and foreign agencies.

Irell attorneys bring to this practice their substantial experience representing clients in matters involving government and regulatory investigations and prosecutions, including criminal, civil and regulatory matters. The firm has represented countless business organizations, directors, officers and other individuals in connection with such matters. The practice group has been actively involved in all stages of the defense of these matters, from compliance counseling through internal investigations, scrutiny by government authorities, and criminal and civil trials and appeals. The firm’s areas of subject matter expertise include:

  • The FCPA, the U.K. Bribery Act, and anti-corruption laws throughout the world
  • Securities, financial institution and accounting fraud
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Export/import violations
  • Procurement fraud
  • Health care fraud
  • Privacy and cybersecurity
  • Computer and intellectual property crimes
  • U.S. False Claims Act

The practice group also has extensive experience conducting internal investigations and creating corporate compliance programs, including in matters that precede government scrutiny. As company counsel, we design and implement effective compliance programs, conduct efficient and thorough investigations, identify appropriate remedial measures, render advice regarding related public disclosure issues, and assist in managing the response to government reviews or inquiries. Our practice group works in close collaboration with Irell lawyers who have years of experience advising corporate boards on issues of governance and substantive questions of corporate law, tax, intellectual property, financings, and the like. We have also served corporate clients over the years in pursuing internal investigations and compliance programs addressing a wide variety of topics, and assisted scores of individual officers or directors in confronting the complex challenges of such investigations.

The following is a brief description of some of the firm’s specific areas of expertise within the practice.

Government Investigations. Irell has extensive experience assisting corporations and their executives in evaluating the underlying factual and legal issues that may lead to government action, developing strategies for responding to government investigations and, if necessary, defending against civil and criminal government prosecutions.

In one recent example, Irell successfully terminated without government action multi-year probes by both the DOJ and SEC into a Goldman Sachs investment banker under highly-publicized scrutiny. After a comprehensive review and multiple presentations by Irell to government officials, DOJ ended its investigation and declined to prosecute, and the SEC withdrew its authorization for enforcement action.

Anti-Corruption Enforcement Actions. Irell’s experience includes matters arising in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, and includes internal investigations, defense against government inquiries, compliance counseling and the design of compliance programs, due diligence, and working with independent corporate compliance monitors. We have experience in virtually every industry, including high technology, telecommunications, and electronics; media; mining, oil, and other extractive industries; energy; defense contracting and aerospace; transportation; broker-dealers and other financial service providers; pharmaceuticals and medical devices; manufacturing; and apparel.

Internal Investigations and Corporate Compliance Programs. Irell has extensive experience assisting corporations, boards of directors and audit committees in conducting internal investigations in a wide variety of matters, and in the development and implementation of corporate compliance programs. Such investigations have been designed to locate potential fraud, abuse or other wrongdoing, and to counsel companies to develop effective strategies for defending against civil and criminal inquires, as well as prosecutions before they are initiated. In this area, our practice group brings clients the unique perspective of how the facts and newly developed programs will be seen through the eyes of government officials, judges and prosecutors.

For example, we have represented numerous Fortune 500 public companies and their boards of directors in investigating alleged errors or deficiencies in their accounting practices and financial reporting. Many of these investigations were conducted while parallel DOJ and SEC reviews were being conducted, requiring Irell to successfully coordinate the many complex aspects that arise in such situations.

White Collar Criminal Defense. Irell has represented corporations and individuals in a wide variety of white collar criminal matters, from responses to government subpoenas for documents, deposition and grand jury testimony, to the defense of government prosecution and enforcement actions. Our representations have spanned courts and agencies across the country, at both the state and federal level.

A substantial portion of the practice group’s white collar representations over the past few years has related to the defense of investigations and prosecutions of financial crimes. Irell has been actively involved in the defense of institutions and individuals charged with securities fraud, insider trading, bank fraud, FCPA violations, tax violations, RICO charges, mail fraud and wire fraud.

As one recent well-publicized example, Irell represented Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial Corporation, in a massive criminal investigation by the DOJ and in a parallel civil lawsuit filed by the SEC alleging securities fraud and insider trading. After considering multiple defense presentations made by the Irell team, the DOJ ultimately decided not to seek any criminal charges against Mr. Mozilo. A settlement was reached with the SEC shortly before the scheduled commencement of trial.

False Claims Act/Government Contractor Litigation. The past few years have seen an explosion in government enforcement of the False Claims Act. Under this act, the government is entitled to treble civil damages for false claims submitted to the government plus a set figure, regardless of the amount of damages, for each false claim. Additionally, the government criminally pursues individual and corporate defendants. Finally, the government will frequently pursue administrative sanctions against offenders, seeking to suspend or debar such offenders from government contracting.

Irell has become increasingly involved in the defense of these False Claims Act investigations on the criminal, civil and administrative levels. For example, the firm was recently brought in to defend a corporation that had been investigated for two years for alleged kickbacks within the defense contracting industry. Irell attorneys successfully convinced the DOJ to decline the prosecution of the case based primarily on the strength of the corporate compliance program drafted by the practice group.