Corporate Responses to Investigative Requests by the Federal Government

In light of these new realities corporations face, the first step a company should take is to establish internal guidelines addressing interaction with government agents. Companies should have a response policy in place and communicate this policy to all employees, especially receptionists, executive secretaries, and those employees who are likely to be the first approached by law enforcement.

A key element of a corporate response policy is identifying a designated person (“DP”)—and a hierarchy of backup designated persons (collectively referred to as “alternative DP”)—to respond to all federal requests. The DP should be an individual with a significant degree of authority and responsibility. For example, a company may wish to use its head of security or CFO. The alternative DP should be an individual who would be available if the primary DP is unavailable.

The company should create and distribute a plan for reaching the DP and alternative DP in the event of an investigation. This contact plan should include distributing work phone numbers, cellular phone numbers, and any other appropriate way to reach them. Since investigative contacts are usually unscheduled and happen at odd hours, a company should make sure the DP and alternative DP can be paged, “Blackberried” or telephoned in case of an emergency. Furthermore, a company should inform building security personnel of the procedures for contacting the DP and alternative DP, particularly if agents are executing a search warrant.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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