In a webinar co-hosted by the A&M Disputes and Investigations team and TEH Group, Managing Directors Keith Williamson, Davin Teo and Chris Fordham discussed the impact of COVID-19 and the current global economic uncertainty on businesses. Faced with increased financial misconduct risks, businesses must remain vigilant and overcome the challenges of conducting investigations in a global lockdown.
“Due to the unprecedented financial crisis caused by COVID-19, financial pressures are accumulating, and we are seeing an uptrend in financial statement fraud by company management, misappropriation of assets by employees, bribery and corruption. At the same time, the global lockdown has created unique challenges to the prevention, detection and investigation of this misconduct. In the current environment, it is imperative that the way we conduct forensic investigations is effective, while companies’ compliance frameworks remain up to date.” – Keith Williamson, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal Disputes and Investigations in Hong Kong and China
COVID-19 has brought the use of forensic technology in investigations to the forefront in order to overcome challenges during a lockdown.
“With lockdowns, travel restrictions and bans, the ability to send a team to travel internationally to collect data onsite for an investigation is no longer an option at least for the short to medium term. This is why there is a need for forensic IT professionals to implement remote forensic collection methodology and maintain a full chain of custody to preserve the integrity of the data. Also, having a local team within a country will provide an advantage to conducting the data collection, hosting electronic data and providing review support of the electronic data to the local investigation team and lawyers.” – Davin Teo, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal Disputes and Investigations in Hong Kong, China and Korea.
Smart companies should prepare for and protect their businesses from the upcoming financial risks with an effective compliance framework.
“Going forward, the effectiveness of training and the frequency of communication will come under the spotlight in the strengthening of compliance frameworks post COVID-19. Also, apart from the need to place greater emphasis on understanding local nuances of undertaking investigations in the various geographies, compliance frameworks must be augmented to address and mitigate emerging new risks, cyber frauds and threats. Finally, with potential delays in undertaking Investigations, compliance teams should better prioritize fraud alerts, through case assessment and triage." – Chris Fordham, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal Disputes and Investigations in Hong Kong and China