A recent survey conducted by Legal Business, sponsored by OpenText, found that organizations in the DACH region are experiencing a resurgence in regulatory and whistleblower investigations.
Top triggers of investigations
The survey, which polled senior legal, compliance and investigations professionals within corporations and law firms across the DACH region, cited the top triggers for investigations as follows:
- Internal conduct of employees (61%)
- Allegations of criminal activity by an employee with the business (43%)
- Human resources issues related to furloughs and wrongful dismissal (28%)
- Allegations of criminal activity by an employee outside the business (21%)
But the breadth in types of investigations being conducted is much broader, with survey respondents citing that they have conducted the following forms of investigations at least once in the past three years: lawsuits filed by an individual, lawsuits filed by another organization, and antitrust related notices from a regulator each scoring at 25.5% among respondents. Investigations in response to notices from a regulator in relation to whistleblower allegations also figured prominently, at 23.4% of participants.
In terms of complexity of issues involved, respondents cited issues related to the conduct of the business (38%) as top, antitrust investigations (36%) and internal issues related to the conduct of employees (34%). Lawsuits filed by another organization (23%) and investigations in response to whistleblower allegations (21.3%) are also among the most complex in terms of the complexity of issues involved. This is important because the complexity of a particular investigation has a material impact on how they are conducted and whether to bring in support from investigations experts.
Regulatory compliance mandates driving investigations
It should be no surprise that these types of investigations top the list of those which senior leaders are addressing, given the heightened regulatory framework and protected whistleblower culture in the region. For example, new rules for investigations in Germany provide for a potential reduction of a sanction against a company that has conducted internal investigations that contributed to the clarification of the company-related criminal offense (thus accelerating internal investigations into employees and potential criminal activity); new German competition legislation expands the investigative powers of the antitrust authorities, including broader powers in relation to dawn raids; and steep fines—as high as €35.3 million—are being imposed based on the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) violations, among other expanded regulatory insight and action.
Maximizing compliance to minimize risk: speed to facts
The need to conduct internal and compliance investigations early and often, to detect signs of potential violations—and respond rapidly to regulatory inquiries—also must be considered in the context of an uptick in the investigations workload DACH organizations are facing.
The survey found that 48% of respondents reported that investigations were launched within a week of awareness of the issue, while a further 46% reported launching investigations within a month of awareness of the issue. Only 6% reported launching investigations after being aware of issues for two months or more.
To speed insight into the facts and mitigate risk, explained by Simon Price, VP Sales, OpenText Legal Tech, “organizations are actively forming partnerships with us, so they can quickly access our Axcelerate investigations technology and Recon Investigations service when a new investigation starts.Simon Price, VP Sales, OpenText LegalTech
To learn more about OpenText’s investigations solutions, please visit the OpenText™ Recon™ investigations page.