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Ask an Expert


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Alexandra Wrage
President and Founder, TRACE


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Nicola Bonucci 
International Lawyer and former
Director for Legal Affairs OECD
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Dave Lee
FCPA Compliance Consultant, TRACE
Sunny McCall.jpg
Sunny McCall
Senior Director II, Compliance Training, TRACE
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Lee Nelson
Independent Compliance and
Ethics Attorney
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Jessica Tillipman
Associate Dean for Government Procurement Law, The GW University Law School
  • Writer's pictureLee Nelson

Get Dawn Raid Ready, Set, . . .


No one wants their first call of the day to be from reception announcing that government officials are waiting in the lobby with a warrant to inspect documents and interview employees. But “dawn raids” are on the rise. This is due, in part, to the upward trend of international cooperation among enforcement authorities. If there’s any good news for compliance officers here, it’s that there are steps you can take to prepare for a raid and reduce potential insomnia. Start by doing the following:  

  • Build a core team with senior members from Legal, Management, IT, Security and Reception, and Communications. Experienced outside counsel also should be on the team and speed-dial. Replicate this team in key international offices. Have the team’s contact information at the ready.

  • Provide the team with written checklists of what to do and training about what will happen during a raid. Consider how raid procedures may differ in various jurisdictions. Outside counsel can help conduct a mock raid, giving all a chance to ask questions.   

  • Work with your IT partners to understand how and where your organization’s data is stored, accessed, and by whom. Keep in mind that officials may conduct a raid in several locations simultaneously, including the homes of executives.     

During a raid, ensure the checklists of tactical action items are proceeding as planned. The core team and outside counsel are alerted and available. Check. The inspectors’ warrant is copied and reviewed for validity and scope. Done. A working room away from office hubbub is made available to the inspectors. Roger. Someone or some two are taking notes of who is interviewed, questions asked, and records and data accessed and copied. In progress.

Certain actions items are more challenging but critical to the strategic objective of protecting your organization as best as possible under the circumstances:

  • Employees are alerted and asked to cooperate

  • An applicable privilege is asserted against relevant data

  • Interviews with employees are conducted with legal counsel present

  • Internal and external communications – ideally, already drafted - are managed

  • No seals applied by the inspectors are broken, and all are so advised.

At the end of the day while it’s still fresh, gather to discuss what happened, what was learned, and the way forward. Start by reviewing records kept during the day. Determine whether internal investigations should be conducted. If the inspectors will be returning, work with outside counsel to create a list of discussion points and a plan for how to proceed generally. And remember, this too shall pass.  

Independent Compliance and Ethics Attorney



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