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Century City News

July 29, 2004

PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS WITH AN EXTERNAL INVESTIGATION

by Michael G. Kessler


Business owners have a lot to think about such as cost- effective practices, harmony in the office, marketing strategies, and an endless list of crucial decisions to make on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, they don't have all the answers, and more often than you might think, something is slipping under their radar. Accounting errors, internal fraud, IT security holes, trademark infringement, counterfeiting are elements that can quickly chip away at your bottom line and put your organization in serious jeopardy.

Let's say your company has been hard at work for decades developing a unique identity, building a recognizable brand. Your corporate logo has become synonymous with your products or services, and over the years, you've forged a sterling reputation in your industry. Now, suppose you were walking down the street, and saw vendors selling cheap T-shirts emblazoned with your logo, but modified with obvious sexual or drug references. How does this affect the public's perception of your brand? It's a blatant case of trademark infringement, and not only does it hurt your company's image, but the profits often help support organized crime or terrorism.

Another example: the treasurer of your organization has been a competent, trusted employee for years, and has been given authority to handle all financial transactions taking place within the company. Nobody questions the treasurer's judgment, and nobody takes notice when vendors are paid for their services in cash. But sooner or later, when profits begin to dip, people start asking questions. Internal inquiries lead nowhere, and according to your accountant, the books are all in order. So where is the money going? Why is company edging near the red every quarter? And why did your modestly paid treasurer just pull into the parking lot in a brand new Hummer? Quite often, financial fraud is being committed right under your nose, and it can have grave ramifications on the well being of your business.

So how does one expose these types of illicit activities, or better yet, keep them from ever occurring? How can companies, especially those with limited resources, maintain a watchful eye on the use of their intellectual property, or examine an internal scandal with discretion and objectivity? The answer may lie in a comprehensive, third-party audit or investigation. While in-house examinations often fall short of their goal, calling on a licensed, experienced consultant can eliminate the hurdle of subjectivity, making for a much more focused inquiry. Law enforcement officials may not have the expertise or resources to tackle a delicate accounting scam or employee computer abuse, and if you're having problems overseas, they likely won't have the jurisdiction. By utilizing the skill and strategic insight of a quality global investigative consultant, you can uncover the parasites that feed off your success, and secure the very future of your company.


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