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What Exactly is a Corporate Investigation?

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What Exactly is a Corporate Investigation?

When there is an incident at a company, sometimes it’s necessary to carry out a corporate investigation to get to the bottom of the issue. These investigations typically occur after a wrongdoing committed by employees, management, or third parties has been reported. But what exactly is a corporate investigation and what sort of things are investigated?


Answering Questions

A corporate investigation aims to answer a few basic questions. First, they are trying to discover what exactly happened during a given incident and what led up to it. Next, they work to determine who is responsible for what happened and why the event was allowed to happen. This information is used to learn if the company is liable or at risk for a lawsuit.


During a corporate investigation, licensed and trained private investigators look into several things to build a case. They analyze financial accounts, interview employees, and management, analyze communications, and sometimes go undercover. Private investigators may work with lawyers to obtain and analyze evidence.

In some cases, a company will attempt to conduct their own internal investigation. However, these investigations have clear conflicts of interest, so they don’t do much to ensure shareholders that the issue is being properly addressed.

This is one of the main reasons for having a corporate investigation in the first place. While companies obviously need to solve the issue at hand, there is a PR aspect of the process. External stakeholders need to know that they aren’t investing in or supporting a business that isn’t following ethical guidelines and could be a liability. A corporate investigation helps save a company’s reputation and restore its integrity.

What Type of Incidents are Investigated?

Corporate investigations often look into legal violations. This could mean violations in the legal regulations of a given industry as well as any criminal offense being committed by employees or management. It is also common to investigate data breaches such as hacking. Investigators look into whether the hack occurred organically from an outside source or if a disgruntled employee used their security clearance to negatively impact the company.

Employment issues occur in the hiring process as well as inter-employee misconduct. These typically involve sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, civil rights violations, and intellectual property rights infringements.

Corporate investigations commonly look into financial misconduct as well. This includes money laundering, fraud, accounting violations or irregularities, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, and missing inventory. Finally, libel and defamation are often investigated. Sometimes there will be fraudulent reviews of a business on platforms like Yelp, Ripoff Report, or Glassdoor. A corporate investigation will determine that the claim is fraudulent so cease and desist papers can be served and the review can be removed.


A corporate investigation requires a great deal of research. Private investigators will carry out background research on all parties involved to find a motive and past behavior. They look into criminal records, social media posts, and other representations of behavior. They also research the company’s financial and accounting records, looking for abnormal activity that could point to wrongdoing.


Private investigators will conduct interviews with employees to feel out the company culture and its respect for the law, the company, and fellow employees. Finally, investigators pour over mass amounts of emails using search and analysis tools.

Expert Corporate Investigation

A corporate investigation is only as thorough as the private investigators that conduct it. South & Associates is comprised of expert investigators and security consultants. Most of our highly trained and certified team members are former law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. Corporate investigations are just one of many expert services that we offer. To get to the bottom of an issue in your corporation, contact us today.

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