If I Witness Corporate Misconduct, What Should I Do?
Many corporations have internal compliance programs for corporate misconduct. These programs are, in theory, designed to provide an audience for workers who want to report unethical or illegal corporate conduct. Whether to utilize internal compliance reporting procedures is not an easy question to answer. As a general proposition, some believe that where the wrongdoing is pervasive—as in the case of securities fraud—an internal compliance program will not provide an adequate means of redress. Some believe that where the issue involves massive overbilling to the government, or an allegation that a corporation is receiving significant dollars in unlawful revenue through fraudulent conduct, the internal compliance system will not work.
Still, many workers choose to report their concerns to internal compliance officers before going to regulatory agencies or filing a false claims case. Doing so does not preclude later filing a false claims case or going to a regulatory agency. Workers also have the right to do both at the same time. Still, where the wrongdoing is pervasive, there are those who believe that going to internal compliance may give the corporation an opportunity to cover its tracks.
The question of whether to report company misconduct internally is both personal and strategic. Those who have made the decision that the wrongdoing needs to be reported are probably ready to consult counsel. Legal counsel can be very helpful in providing guidance on how to best address wrongful conduct in the workplace in terms of whether to go to internal compliance or a regulatory body.
Certain types of employees, including accountants, auditors, and lawyers have particular regulatory and/or legal obligations and therefore these individuals should seek legal counsel before taking action.
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