Internal Investigations

Sutherland is experienced in conducting internal investigations. We know how to resolve problems and interact with regulators and law enforcement.

Internal investigations are a vital tool to protect companies, helping to avoid or resolve possible actions by the government, employees, shareholders, whistleblowers or customers. While we know that internal investigations can be disruptive and expensive, we work efficiently and effectively to minimize those issues. Regulators have come to expect, if not demand, that companies conduct internal investigations if there are indications or allegations of wrongdoing, and often seek to have the results shared with the regulators. Sutherland attorneys have extensive knowledge of regulatory expectations and priorities, gained through decades of practice, as well as through their previous experience as senior counsel with the SEC, FINRA, or DOJ. We understand how regulators approach investigations and what hot issues regulators consider important.

We conduct investigations on behalf of companies, their boards of directors, their audit and special committees, and others. Recent matters include investigating alleged violations of the Securities Act, the Exchange Act, FINRA rules, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); financial reporting fraud; breaches of fiduciary duty; accounting practices; breaches of open government rules; and officer and director misconduct. We assist clients in related areas including criminal investigations, class action lawsuits, government civil actions and issues arising from regulatory examinations.

We analyze business practices for boards of directors or audit committees to assist these boards and committees in understanding the legal, regulatory and potential litigation issues the companies face and to guide them in establishing best practices and policies. Should our investigation uncover issues that must be reported, we assist our clients in reporting these issues to their regulators, while helping to preserve positive relationships with those regulators. We also help establish procedures to prevent future occurrences—often working in conjunction with our corporate and financial services regulatory colleagues.

Why Sutherland
Fast action.
Time is of the essence in an internal investigation. It is not uncommon for regulators to carry out their investigations at the same time a company is conducting an internal review, which means the clock is ticking for conclusion of a thorough investigation. Our team's size and experience means we hit the ground running. Our knowledge and understanding means that we can conduct an investigation efficiently and expeditiously.

We manage perceptions. An internal investigation itself runs the risk of being viewed as a “whitewash.” Our intimate familiarity with regulatory agencies allows us to reassure regulators that we conducted a proper and detailed investigation. Our track records as regulators and our reputations give us credibility.

We know the limitations of internal investigations
. An internal investigation cannot always provide a business with a clean bill of health. Employee turnover, deficient record-keeping and uncooperative players are just a few of the obstacles to an exhaustive inquiry. We take these problems into account throughout the course of an investigation, overcoming them to the extent possible, but keeping interested parties including the board and the regulators abreast of such difficulties as appropriate.

Preventative action. The time to stop a problem is before it starts, and we are well-acquainted with best practices that can help clients avoid future allegations and investigations. To that end, we often provide proactive advice on topics such as record retention policies, responses to red (or even pink) flags and other procedural best practices.

We protect boards and directors. Sutherland analyzes a company’s business practices for boards of directors or audit committees to gather crucial information to satisfy their oversight roles. We help these boards and committees understand the legal issues the company faces.

We litigate when necessary. A core strength of our practice is our ability and willingness to litigate against regulators and private parties when reasonable solutions are not possible, and we provide clients a seamless transition from an investigation to defending alleged wrongdoing in arbitrations, state and federal courts and administrative proceedings.

Nuts and Bolts

Our broad experience, with accounting and financial service issues and as former regulators and in-house counsel, means that we bring an understanding of the industry, the business environment and the regulatory overlay to our investigations. We help clients navigate internal issues as well as respond to and interface with regulators, the media and lawmakers.

Who we represent:

  • Corporations
  • Boards of directors
  • Audit and special committees
  • Individuals (executives, directors and officers)

We have experience in the following areas:

  • Federal securities laws
  • Accounting and financial statement issues
  • Conduct of officers and directors (including alleged reserves accounting, options backdating, insider trading and Sarbanes-Oxley)
  • Government contracts and procurement
  • Corporate governance and ethics
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) (including parallel investigations by foreign governments)
  • Money-laundering and Anti-money laundering programs
  • Commercial bribery/kickbacks, fraud and theft
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criminal investigations
  • Congressional investigations
  • Federal tax laws

Take Action
At the first signal of an allegation of wrongdoing (whether it was made by a whistleblower, employee, customer or regulator), Sutherland’s Internal Investigations team is prepared to leap into action, providing swift and comprehensive results.

Selected Experience


Achieved the last favorable FCPA settlement with the SEC, and the DOJ declined to prosecute following the client’s self-report.
Conducted an internal investigation into matters relating to unlawful payments to Italian health officials under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to foster approvals of company's products. As a result of this internal investigation, we were able to settle the SEC's investigation into the matter. The company settled all issues for $50,000. The Department of Justice declined prosecution.

Sutherland conducts complex accounting and trading investigation of software company.
Our attorneys are conducting an internal investigation for a client, a multinational software development company, into allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, insider trading and improper revenue recognition by senior corporate officers and board members of the firm.

Conducted an internal investigation of a privately held company following the "noisy" withdrawal of its general counsel, who made allegations about the company and its chairman to the SEC and FINRA.

Conducted an internal investigation of a privately held company following the "noisy" withdrawal of its general counsel, who made allegations to the SEC and FINRA about illegal activities by the company and its chairman. The findings of the investigation were reported to the SEC and FINRA. Afterwards, both regulators declined to investigate the allegations further.
 

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Diversity

§  “Diversity at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP” to “Diversity at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP”

§  “Diversity” section:

o   The firm’s emphasis on diversity is reflected in numerous ways throughout the firm, such as the manner in which we recruit lawyers and other employees, our work-life policies and our professional service efforts. We have been recognized for our achievements in diversity.  More importantly, we understand the significant role a diverse community plays in the firm's growth and development.

§  “Our Awards and Recognitions” section:

o   Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP continues to be recognized for its efforts to promote diversity in the workplace and in the legal profession. In 2016 we were named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” having earned a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and we also were ranked a Top 100 Firm for Minority Attorneys by Law360. In addition, the firm was awarded the Gold Standard Certification for the fifth consecutive year by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum.

§  “Our Commitment” section:

o   Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP is committed to promoting diversity within the firm and in the legal profession.  We believe that diverse skills, knowledge and viewpoints make us a stronger, more productive law firm.  We hire and promote qualified lawyers and other professionals regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.  We understand that diversity enhances our value to clients by allowing us to staff our client teams with professionals who possess broad experiences and a spectrum of perspectives.

o   Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP has a cross-office Diversity Committee with responsibility for supporting and enhancing our firm culture.  Our committee has helped coordinate and lead a number of efforts to advance diversity within our firm and the community. Affinity groups at the firm serve as support networks for attorneys of color; women lawyers; and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender attorneys.

o   We are committed to working with our clients as they pursue the common goal of a professional workplace where opportunity is available to all.

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