We explore how electronic discovery (eDiscovery) tools can assist in planning for and managing an investigation.
The objective of any investigation is to help with fact-finding, then gather evidence and effectively strategise the response plan based on the findings.
The Scenario – Fraud Investigation
A company receives allegations from a whistleblower for suspicions of fraud and corruption. The task is to manage the internal investigation and a regulatory request for information. The board may proceed with litigation if necessary.
It’s essential to act quickly to ensure no potentially relevant data is destroyed. The next step is investigation planning.
Firstly, identify the nature of the fraud and corruption allegation, and plan accordingly. The investigation will uncover any evidence and help the board decide on the appropriate action.
The data sources and collection methodologies should be mapped out before beginning information gathering. Identifying key persons and custodians involved in the allegation helps focus on the right data sources. Important evidence could be found in emails and documents collected from laptops, phones and company servers related to the key persons.
- Removing suspected wrongdoer’s access to company servers and devices
- Suspension of employment
- Monitoring for deletion or copying of data
If a third party provider is engaged, check for conflicts and that they’re objective and independent. Also, establish clear reporting and escalation lines.
If the data is located in multiple jurisdictions, you need to consider different data privacy, state secret and privilege laws.
In this investigation, there is a high risk that relevant data will be deleted or changed by the wrongdoer. Therefore, it’s better to do a full forensic collection which meets requirements for evidence for court proceedings should litigation arise.
Confidentially is an issue for collection methodology and when deciding who will review the evidence.
Finally, collection parameters and timelines must be set to ensure efficiency.
Using eDiscovery for Review
Your investigation may involve reviewing thousands or tens of thousands of emails and data. There are tools available to cut down on time and costs.
Let us assume that the investigation has 88GB of email data (1.2M pages).
The eDiscovery method uses a review platform with analytics tools. One of the advantages is the ability to conduct an Early Case Assessment (ECA) which helps identify key documents within large datasets and focus on critical evidence as a priority for review. ECA also helps remove duplicated or irrelevant information.
The below is an example of how eDiscovery significantly reduces the review data size over 14 days.
The investigation report from the review helps with reporting to stakeholders. Privilege can be maintained and recommendations can be made to the board where appropriate.
With eDiscovery tools, your internal investigations can be more efficiently and accurately conducted, especially for large data sizes.
For advice on eDiscovery matters, please contact us.