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Think the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Reduced the Need to Focus on Corporate Investigations? Think Again.

One of the key findings from our 2019 Corporate Investigations Survey (conducted in partnership with Above the Law and available for download here) was that nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents involved with corporate investigations expected the number of investigations to increase over the next three years.

Given the challenges we have all faced this year, 2019 seems so long ago, doesn’t it?  Certainly, the landscape of challenges that corporations face today seems very different than the one they faced in 2019. But, does that mean the need for corporations to focus on investigations has lessened compared to other challenges?

On the contrary, the pandemic has created additional challenges that could lead to an even greater need for an effective corporate investigations program.  Here are just three indicators that could lead to new challenges for corporate investigations in 2020:

    • Increased Cybersecurity Concerns: With workforces much more distributed in work from home (WFH) environments, cyberattacks and data breaches are on the rise. Two examples:
      • In its Mid-Year Threat Landscape Report 2020, Bitdefender reported that global ransomware reports increased by over seven times over the six months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
      • In its Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020, IBM reported that remote work has increased the average cost of a data breach by $137,000 and that 76% of remote workers say working from home would increase the time to identify and contain a breach.
    • Increased Fraud Activity: In September 2020, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners published the results of a survey of certified fraud examiners. The survey notes that 74% of surveyed certified fraud examiners indicated that preventing, detecting, and investigating fraud in the COVID-19 era has been even more challenging than it was before the pandemic. Here are some of the findings:
      • 77% of respondents observed an increase in the overall level of fraud and a whopping 92% expect to see an additional increase in the overall level of fraud during the next year;
      • 49% of respondents have observed an increase in bribery and corruption, with 70% anticipating an additional increase during the next year;
      • 64% of respondents have observed an increase in health care fraud, with 83% expecting an additional increase over the next year; and
      • 83% of respondents observed an increase in cyber fraud schemes and 90% anticipate an additional increase during the next year.
    • Challenges Due to Remote Work: In June, the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery hosted a webinar titled Best Practices and Tactics for Conducting an Internal Investigation in the COVID-19 Era, where they discussed challenges, such as the greater ability for employee misconduct when working remotely, potential Department of Justice investigations due to the misuse of stimulus money and potential challenges associated with loss of evidence and/or witnesses due to remote work and potential layoffs.

With potential impacts to businesses ranging from potential fines related to regulatory investigations, to reputational damage associated with employee and workplace related investigations, to potential disruption due to cyberattacks, doing so efficiently with budgets that are more constrained (due to the pandemic and associated economic challenges) is more important than ever.

As seems to be the case with most challenges in 2020, the challenges associated with corporate investigations since the pandemic are here to stay; in fact, they’ve even increased as illustrated by the examples above.  The ability to leverage experts who understand the issues with advanced technology and linguistics to locate key evidence quickly is essential to lead to successful outcomes in your corporate investigations.

For more information on the H5 Key Document Identification® technology-enabled service to assist companies with locating key evidence quickly in investigations, click here.

 

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