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Internal Investigations: What is at Stake for Employers and Employees?
By Philip S. Kushner
Much has been said and written about the federal government’s efforts to pressure corporations to cooperate in investigating and reporting potential wrongdoing by corporate employees. There has been highly publicized criticism of governmental efforts to require corporations to waive the attorney-client privilege, or not pay the legal fees of employees so that the corporation will not be charged criminally.1 However, less attention has been paid to the impact these governmental policies have had upon corporate officers and employees and the resulting impact upon the organizations themselves.
Corporations may be held criminally liable for the acts of an employee if the employee acted, even in part, to benefit the corporation. This is true even if the employee acted contrary to corporate policy. Moreover, corporations may be held liable even if the employee did not know that his conduct violated the law, since ignorance of the law is usually not a defense. Thus, unless
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