President Ronald Regan told us the nine most terrifying words in the English language:
If you’re a business owner, you know that nothing good will come from an interaction with a government investigator that is asking questions. People from the government will not approach you or your employees because they want to help.
Government investigators build careers by bringing people or businesses down.
That’s why you should learn everything possible about government investigations at the soonest possible time—preferably before they begin.
Our team has worked with business owners that suffered because they did not learn about government investigations early. The more a business owner understands, the more precautions the owner can take.
Don’t get caught in the crosshairs of a government agency that takes an interest in your business.
How Would You Know if You’re Under a Government Investigation?
There may be several signs that could let you know that you’re the subject of a government investigation. First, a federal agent may try to talk to you or to someone that is related to your company. Sometimes, the agent will knock on a person’s door. Perhaps it is an FBI agent, a Secret Service agent, or an officer from any number of other federal law enforcement agencies.
Another rather blatant sign is that someone from the government, including the Department of Justice, may let you know that you’re a target. They could send you a “target letter.” Below is a sample of a target letter that you never want to receive:
Rather than trying to connect with you directly, an attorney for the government may send you or your attorney a subpoena requesting documents and records.
Many people learn that they’re under investigation because federal agents may raid your place of business, or they may come to your house with a search warrant. If they pursue this approach, they may or may not seize all of your computers and records. You will know that an investigation has begun.
A friend, or an employee may tell you that they heard from the government, giving you insight into the investigation. The government agents may have asked questions about you or your business.
If you inquire about what happened, you should anticipate that the government will want to know what you asked. Your comments could later be used against you, possibly even leading to charges for obstruction of justice.
Where do Government Investigations Lead?
Sadly, many government investigations advance to hefty sanctions. Those sanctions can result in enormous fines. They can lead to injunctions that will block you from doing future business. In many cases, they can lead to criminal charges.
Thousands of cases brought by the Department of Justice each year begin as white-collar government investigations. Later, those investigations escalate, with charges for the following types of white-collar crimes:
- Wire fraud
- Mail fraud
- Securities fraud
- Tax Fraud
- Federal Corrupt Practices Act
- Money Laundering
- Antitrust Violations
- Obstruction of Justice
A civil investigation doesn’t have to lead to a criminal charge to devastate a company or an individual.
We have extensive experience working with people that faced government investigations. The result of those investigations led to devastating results.
For example, consider results that followed for people that didn’t fully grasp how business decisions could lead to government investigations, and in many cases, federal prosecutions:
- Violation of Sherman Antitrust Act: Judge sentences CEO to 40 months in prison
- Violation of Stark Act: Judge sentences doctor to 60 months in prison
- Violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule: Judge levies $138-million fine, holding executives jointly and severally liable, imposes a lifetime earning limit of $5,000 per month, requiring executives to forfeit any additional income to FTC; requirement to turn over all assets valued at more than $2,500.
- Violation of Securities Laws: Judge imposes $10 million fine, sentences CEO to prison for 15 months.
- Violation of Excise Tax Laws: Judge sentences CEO to 17 years in prison.
- Violation of Fairness in Advertising Laws: Judge finds CEO liable for $170-million fine, sentences CEO to prison for obstruction of justice.
If business leaders learned more about the relationship between business decisions, and the possibility for government investigations, they could make better decisions. For example:
- They could implement policies to protect against such intrusions.
- They could create systems to protect their business interests.
- They could train their staff more effectively.
By not knowing the relationship between business decisions and government investigations, leaders lose millions of dollars. Sadly, in many cases, they lose their liberty.
Even President Trump had to pay $20 million to settle a government investigation into one of his former businesses, Trump University. People without his power went to federal prison with fraud convictions for similar conduct.
If you’re a business owner and you value your liberty, we encourage you to contact us to learn how we can help your organization avoid government investigations.
If any of the following bullet points apply to your business, we have a program to help:
- Your business employs people that sells any product or service over the telephone.
- Your business employs a system that collects automatic billing from consumers.
- Your business uses email.
- You have a website.
- You use the Internet.
- You use cellphones.
- You use landline phones.
- You receive mail.
- Your business employs more than 25 people.
- Your business employs fewer than 25 people.
- Your business deals with people in foreign markets.
- Your business deals with people in the United States.
- Your business solicits clients through the U.S. Postal Service.
- Your business contracts with the federal government.
- Your business contracts with state governments.
- Your pay taxes.
- You don’t pay taxes.
- You work with publicly traded companies.
- You work with privately owned companies.
- You practice medicine.
- You sell anything at all.
Basically, if you work for a living, you’re vulnerable to government investigations. Protect your ass-ets.
Contact us today to learn more about our compliance training programs. We’d much rather help you learn how to avoid a government investigation so we don’t have to help you prepare for sentencing or prison.