Internal Investigations – It Happens

Nike began an internal investigation in 2017 into allegations that some of its executives had made illegal payments to athletes.  The internal investigation went on for over one year.  Then in March 2019, “celebrity” lawyer Michael Avenatti raised the allegations to Nike while allegedly trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike presenting text messages, e-mails and other evidence of the illegal payments.    

Avenatti is now on trial for the extortion allegations.  During the trial the DLA Piper lawyer for Nike that conducted the internal investigation, testified that the internal investigation had not uncovered the text messages, e-mails and other evidence Avenatti presented at the March 2019, meeting. 

The take away, I guess, is that when you are hired by a client to do an internal investigation and even if you think you are doing a thorough job, it is quite possible you missed a whole lot.  You need to be vigilant as people will affirmatively try to hide and destroy evidence that implicates them; that people may engage in fraudulent behavior in the face of an internal investigation (as that is exactly what happened in one internal investigation I headed up – we uncovered the fraudulent behavior and the attempted cover-up).    

Always be vigilant!

More later.  As always, feel free to contact me at walter.james@jamespllc.com

WDJiii      

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