The Wasser Agency

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Corporate Investigators Miami Beach South Beach

In criminology, corporate crime refers to crimes committed either by a corporation (i.e., a business entity having a separate legal personality from the natural persons that manage its activities) or by individuals acting on behalf of a corporation or other business entity (see vicarious liability and corporate liability). Some negative behaviors by corporations may not actually be criminal; laws vary between jurisdictions. For example, some jurisdictions allow insider trading.

Corporate crime overlaps with:

White-collar crime, because the majority of individuals who may act as or represent the interests of the corporation are white-collar professionals;

organized crime, because criminals may set up corporations either for the purposes of crime or as vehicles for laundering the proceeds of crime. The world’s gross criminal product has been estimated at 20 percent of world trade. (De Brie 2000); and

State-corporate crime because, in many contexts, the opportunity to commit crime emerges from the relationship between the corporation and the state.


Corporate crime has become politically sensitive in some countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, following wider publicity of fatal accidents on the rail network and at sea, the term is commonly used in reference to corporate manslaughter and to involve a more general discussion about the technological hazards posed by business enterprises (see Wells: 2001).

The Law Reform Commission of New South Wales offers an explanation of such criminal activities:

Corporate crime poses a significant threat to the welfare of the community. Given the pervasive presence of corporations in a wide range of activities in our society, and the impact of their actions on a much wider group of people than are affected by individual action, the potential for both economic and physical harm caused by a corporation is great (Law Reform Commission of New South Wales: 2001).

Corporate investigation is an essential practice in the business world that investigates allegations of civil and criminal activities related to a company or organization. Corporate investigators are highly skilled professionals that perform a variety of investigative tasks for their organization.

Corporate investigators investigate a variety of allegations such civil and criminal fraud, embezzlement, irregularities in accounting, information leaks, electronic crime, and many other activities. They carry out internal and external investigations for companies and organizations. Internal investigations involve the investigation of activities that take place inside the corporation such as abused expense accounts or drug use in the workplace.

External investigations examine criminal activity from outside the organization such as fraudulent billing from vendors or suppliers. In all cases, corporate investigators develop a strategy for investigation, analyze facts, obtain substantial evidence, locate and interview witnesses, and identify and interview the culprits. Many investigators spend large amounts of time posing as employees to complete their investigations.

Corporate investigators typically need at least a bachelor degree in a business related field. Many employers prefer candidates with previous work experience in the investigative field. Some corporate investigators have a master's degree in business administration or are Certified Public Accountants. Prospective corporate investigators typically complete courses in political science, business administration, accounting, finance, criminal justice, and communications. Many employers provide on the job training where new corporate investigators follow experienced investigators. Large companies typically provide formal training on management structure, business practices, and many other topics related to finance. Most states require corporate investigators to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary, but typically include minimum education and experience, passing a background check, and passing a written examination.

Employment of corporate investigators is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% through 2018. The growing population and increased need for corporate investigation services will drive job growth.

As of 2015, the average annual salary for corporate investigators is $83,000; average annual corporate investigator salaries vary greatly by location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

If you are considering whether or how to become a corporate investigator, this can be an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in corporate investigation and performing a variety of investigative tasks for companies and organizations. Corporate investigators must have a solid understanding of business practices and investigative procedures and be able to merge them to lead successful investigations.

Patience, determination, persistence, self-confidence, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential. Corporate investigators must be discreet and have the ability to obtain useful information. They must be trustworthy and have excellent communication to interact with a variety of people.

Corporations regularly face a myriad of situations that require investigation and fact finding.  An anonymous caller, for example, calls the company fraud-line alleging that an employee may be receiving bribes from a vendor.  A government agency serves a subpoena seeking business and sales records. The company receives a credible threat of litigation.  Whatever triggers an investigation, it is important that the investigation be conducted by an investigator competently and efficiently.

A thoughtful and carefully structured approach to investigations is essential. Severe consequences beyond “losing the case” may result if the matter is not handled appropriately, including unintentional waiver of the attorney client privilege, spoliation sanctions, adverse jury instructions, obstruction of justice convictions, and damage to corporate reputation.

Geographical Considerations: In the current global marketplace one of the first considerations is the geographic scope of the investigation. Some of the key issues when foreign operations are involved include: a) In which countries are the people, documents, and data located; 2) The U.S. parent company’s degree of control over those operations; 3) Foreign laws and regulations that impact aspects of investigations, such as conducting interviews or accessing and analyzing business or personal information maintained in other countries, and 4) U.S. laws that apply in foreign jurisdictions.

Outside the United States, more than a dozen countries have enacted data protection laws and regulations that can significantly impact the work of the corporate investigator. For example, the European Union Data Protection Directive established certain standards and protections, such as requirements to give employees notice and in some cases receive their consent as a condition of reviewing their private information.  Some EU countries, like France, Switzerland and Greece have also enacted their own country-specific regulations that are even more restrictive.

The potential challenges associated with conducting investigations on a global basis can add time, complexity, cost and frustration to the corporate investigator. These challenges may include:

  • The corporate investigator will confront legal and regulatory issues, as mentioned above.
  • Geographic considerations, including language, culture, lack of skills, and physical infrastructure may limit the corporate investigator.
  • Technological considerations, including information management, foreign language processing and searching, technical infrastructure, and redaction capabilities of the corporate investigator.

Organizations can often deal with these challenges and complexities by having multiple legal perspectives on the team of the corporate investigators. In many cases this is facilitated through the use of not only in-house counsel, but also investigative counsel and even data privacy counsel.

Internal investigations can at times be resolved more efficiently and with lower risks of litigation for improperly conducting the investigation when overseen by independent outside counsel with investigation experience, in tandem with outside experts, such as auditors, corporate investigators and forensic computer specialists. 

This is almost always the case if potential wrongdoing by high-level officers is being investigated.  Some regulators have made it clear that they give more credence to investigations conducted by outside attorneys.

The corporate investigator should communicate the importance of the investigation and the necessity of complete cooperation to the employees who may be interviewed, or from whom records or information may be sought. This will help the attorney and corporate investigators working at the attorney’s direction achieve the best results. 

The corporate investigator can also emphasize that there will be no retaliation or reprisals for cooperating with the investigation.  The corporate investigator also can help free up employees’ time to gather records and participate in interviews.

The corporate investigator should consider establishing a plan and timeline that includes each step that will be taken and a target completion date for each. Also the corporate investigator should consider how each phase of the investigation supports the next step. The investigation plan states how the investigation will be conducted, and generally varies in complexity depending on the circumstances. Elements present in a typical plan may include:

  • Overview of the allegation
  • Summary or chronology
  • List of the opposing parties with contact information
  • Legal issues to be researched and a completion date
  • Sources of information
  • Plan and timetable for gathering and reviewing records
  • Consideration of the practicality and benefits of using early case assessment
  • Initial list of Key Players and Information Custodians should be developed
  • A communication plan describing to whom and with what frequency the corporate investigator or attorney will report the status of the investigation
  • Preparation of a final report

Identifying the kinds of records considered to be “in scope” in any investigation is important. Following is a list of the types of records and information that might be considered relevant by the corporate investigator. It is not intended to be all-inclusive.

  • Company rules, policies, and procedures
  • Memoranda or notes regarding the incident
  • Time cards, logs or diaries
  • Expense reports and receipts
  • Communications to employees – including historical email files
  • Prior complaints
  • Personnel and security files
  • Managers’ notes and files
  • Samples of the employee’s and others’ work for comparison
  • Analyses prepared by the subject and maintained in shared servers, network files, and personal hard drives

The report of the investigation may be done by the corporate investigator either written or oral depending on the circumstances and the desired outcome.  A well-written report discussing facts and law that is provided to an investigating agency may be essential to dissuade government attorneys from prosecution.  On the other hand, the same report may be turned against the client, and in the process, privileges may be waived and the report could become a weapon against the corporate investigator in later litigation by third parties.

Under certain circumstances, (often determined by industry or whether the company’s equities or debt are publicly traded) the company may be legally required to self-report under agency regulations.  So the corporate investigator should notice that a written report of investigation could be very helpful if the company was the victim of fraud and wished to disclose the crime to law enforcement for possible prosecution.

Similarly, the company may decide to make an insurance claim which would likely entail a written disclosure.  The company may also choose to self-report to obtain leniency under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines if there is potential for a criminal prosecution against the company. And where the outcome of an independent, competent investigation shows that the company acted properly, it may be prudent to have a thorough written report. 

On the other hand, if there is no legal obligation or strategic reason to disclose, the corporate investigator may choose to keep the final report oral to help maintain confidentiality under the attorney-client privilege while it implements remedial measures.  Thus, whether the final report is to be oral or written deserves careful consideration by the corporate investigator.

In the Wasser Agency, we pay attention to all details of the corporate investigation. We have experienced corporate investigator ready to conduct your investigation. Contact us for advice and services, we are located in Miami Beach/South Beach Florida.