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Regulatory Practice Definition
Regulatory investigation has become a particularly demanded area of legal practice since companies nowadays face complex and challenging demands from regulatory authorities worldwide. Often there are differences with the regulators which cannot be resolved easily so the companies seek legal advice to settle any disagreements and avoid costly, lengthy, and most importantly, reputation damaging litigation. This is an outcome of the heavy government involvement in corporate affairs worldwide following the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.
Public investigation against a corporation may cause serious reputational harm to a company as well as to members of its management. That is why businesses should be well-prepared to respond to regulatory challenges, avoid risk of intervention by governmental institutions, and to work out tactical responses when investigation commences.
Events leading to an investigation may take various forms, including a routine financial audit that may reveal a regulatory breach or an unannounced visit of a regulatory authority, so called dawn raids. Clients should be ready to respond to any such intervention quickly and effectively to preserve their rights and minimize negative impact of such intrusion.
In general, regulatory investigations cover the following areas: antitrust and competition issues, banking and financial services, corporate offences, fraud, white collar crimes, document disclosure, anti-bribery and corruption, securities, and some others.
In Russia, there are several laws dealing with regulatory investigations depending on various sectors or entities involved. For example, there is a regulatory framework for investigations of financial institutions, antitrust and competition issues, tax-related audit, investigation by a prosecution office, police, or other investigative authorities, and others. There is a specific area of procedural law dealing with challenges against decisions and actions of state and municipal authorities provided for in chapters 24 and 25 of the Commercial Procedural Code.
Today, successful legal advice in the area of regulatory investigation requires a deep understanding of legal requirements in multiple jurisdictions and of methods used by regulatory authorities. An early identification of potential civil, administrative, or even criminal liability risks is crucial, since it gives a legal team time to develop a suitable strategy that may protect long-term interests of a client in a given jurisdiction.
The task for the lawyer advising in the course of regulatory investigation is multifold, since it includes both legal work and development of a successful strategy. It is crucial for a legal advisor to make sure from the outset that a client would not make major mistakes that can eventually affect its reputation or incur liability. Such pitfalls may include inadvertent destroying or withholding documents, refusing to cooperate with state authorities, or continuing activity that is being investigated. Any of these actions may also result in significant penalties. Therefore legal advisors may need to be called in to interview staff members of a corporation that is being investigated in order to make sure that they know their rights and would not make strategic mistakes in the face of regulatory authorities.
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