Electronic Health Checks for Companies

08 May 2013 by James Farnell

The first in our series of webinars about the use of electronic evidence in Europe started with resounding success last week.  We had over one hundred attendees from 21 countries to listen in to the live panel discussion of Till Kleinhans (Head of Business Integrity at Allianz), Hugues Valette Viallard (partner at Latham & Watkins in Paris and Brussels) and our own electronic evidence consultant Thomas Sely (Kroll Ontrack, Paris).

The discussion focused on the conduct of internal investigations in terms of ‘staying a step ahead of the regulators’ (which was the official title of the webinar) and identifying wrongdoing within a company at an early stage so that remedial steps can be taken.  The role of electronic evidence was discussed in this context in terms of assisting both internal compliance departments and law firms to efficiently and quickly seek out evidence of prohibited activity.

We were particularly pleased to have Till Kleinhans and Hugues Valette Villard contributing to this topic.  Both have extensive experience in their respective fields and were therefore able to bring some valuable insights to this discussion.

Till provided some interesting insights on the internal systems Allianz use to monitor a very wide range of issues including internal fraud, corruption, antitrust activity, harassment, security and blackmail, and how such investigations are handled.  For investigations of a serious nature Allianz generally require the external support of lawyers and IT specialists to manage the electronic evidence aspects of the investigation.  Indeed, Till made the point that for ‘up to date’ knowledge in such matters he believed it was necessary to involve outside IT specialist providers.

Hugues who has a very wide range of experience assisting his clients in investigation situations stated that company ‘health-checks’ were on the increase because the tools are now available to take appropriate action (supported by legal advice) on the basis of the evidence that is found.  Hugues emphasized the importance of companies being ready and having a proper system in place to run internal investigations.  The robustness of evidence gathering was mentioned as a key point: any data being used for an investigation has to be correctly imaged in accordance with relevant data protection laws (which vary in each country).  The paramount importance of data being correctly captured, stored and managed emphasizes the need for expert external IT teams.

As the IT landscape continues to evolve, electronic evidence providers need to adapt their processes to be able to extract data from a wider and wider range of electronic devices.  To have the best chance of locating the ‘smoking gun’ early collaboration with IT providers is increasingly necessary.

Don’t miss our next webinar on 14 May which focuses on Dawn Raid Survival.  Practical tips will be discussed and shared amongst our panel of European experts including Dr Thomas Kapp (partner at Luther, Stuttgart), Julie Catala Marty (partner at Bird & Bird, Paris), and Rainer Ziener (Computer Forensic Consultant - Kroll Ontrack, Germany) so do join us again on May 14th!