Collusion, Conflict of Interest and Corrupt Conduct

Collusion, Conflict of Interest and Corrupt Conduct

Contrary to popular perception, corruption, collusion and conflicts of interest are not just issues that arise in government agencies and bodies. In an increasingly competitive and interconnected business world, it’s becoming common for business operators and employees in positions of power to offer or receive improper benefits in exchange for favourable treatment.

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Contrary to popular perception, corruption, collusion and conflicts of interest are not just issues that arise in government agencies and bodies. In an increasingly competitive and interconnected business world, it’s becoming common for business operators and employees in positions of power to offer or receive improper benefits in exchange for favourable treatment.

Of course, bad elements in the public sector have been known to have engaged in this type of behaviour for many years but it’s important to recognise that it also occurs in the private sector. Most levels of government have attempted to deal with the problem of corruption by instituting the tender process and similar mechanisms but corporations are often unprepared when it comes to preventing, recognising and solving such issues.

The good news is that it is possible in certain circumstances to identify conflicts of interest and instances of corruption and collusion regardless of where they occur. Anyone can investigate a suspected improper relationship however the investigative options available may depend on the role of the person instigating the investigation.

Most conflict cases dealt with by private investigators are for clients who could be said to be “external” to the conflict relationship. For example, the operator of a small business seeking a contract with a larger corporation or a government body may believe that a competitor has an improper relationship with the person responsible for awarding the contract. There are multiple other situations in which conflicts of this type arise. In these external investigations, an investigator will usually look for evidence of the existence of a relationship between the alleged wrongdoers. This is typically done by conducting what is effectively a background check for each person of interest and seeing whether there is correlating information revealed in the searches. Another option is surveillance of the parties to see whether they meet and/or socialise improperly.

The second type of investigation into a conflict could be categorised under the “internal” investigation umbrella, where the person initiating the investigation enjoys some level of control over an alleged culprit. This would typically come about in cases where a worker is alleged to have engaged in wrongdoing and the employer or government body who employs the worker decides to conduct an investigation. Often a whistleblower is involved . In this type of investigation the investigator has not only the options mentioned above but may also have additional investigative avenues to explore. For example, an employer looking into claims an employee improperly favoured one supplier over another may have access to relevant digital evidence (such as emails and smartphone metadata), documentary evidence and/or witnesses who can provide statements.

In cases involving governments officials, FOI requests may be contemplated.

Self-evidently, an internal investigation is usually more straightforward as there is usually access to more evidence. Direct evidence of wrongdoing will often lead to serious consequences and possibly to civil action or even to criminal charges. If evidence of an improper relationship alone is uncovered in an internal or external investigation, it may be sufficient for a contract to be rescinded (or otherwise unwound) or may lead to a broader review of the circumstances.

As with any type of investigation, for reasons of efficiency and effectiveness, it is optimal if one primary investigator manages the conduct of a conflict matter as a whole. One never knows where an investigation will end.

Lyonswood Investigations & Forensics is a firm with 36 years of broad-based investigation experience. We are skilled in background checks, surveillance, factual investigations, digital forensics and all the elements involved in conducting corruption, collusion and conflict of interest investigations.

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