Criminal investigations and other disputes in the wake of government inspections
Each year, a considerable number of Norwegian businesses are subjected to government audits or inspections – with subsequent criminal penalties or other sanctions. Proceedings may be instituted by the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) or by other government bodies on the basis of a specific suspicion or as the result of regular supervisory oversight.
Thommessen has extensive experience in assisting clients in such matters. These matters include corporate penalties imposed on businesses and managerial personnel indicted by Økokrim, as well as the imposition of sanctions by the competition authorities, labour inspection authorities or other sectoral bodies.
Support from the outset
We will in many cases provide support from the very outset, i.e. from the authorities come knocking on the door. We will attend the client’s premises on a few minutes’ notice and assist the client in ensuring that any government raid in conducted in accordance with applicable regulations and that the client’s rights are observed. Such government raids do not only raise the issue of which materials the authorities are entitled to access, and will often immediately trigger a whole host of other issues. These may pertain to, for example, employment law, data protection, stock exchange notification and how company management – including the Board of Directors – should respond to the allegations. Thommessen has extensive experience with such processes, and we have the broad expertise and capacity to define and solve all such issues.
A government raid will typically occasion a considerable need for information on the part of the client. The allegations need to be examined and it is often necessary to review the materials seized by the authorities as well as their conversations with the persons involved. Thommessen has extensive experience with such fact finding and we have the analysis and project tools required to make such processes smooth and efficient.
High-profile criminal investigations
The scope and scale of Thommessen’s practice makes us especially well-suited for handling such matters. Virtually all criminal investigations initiated by Økokrim have their origin in underlying civil law issues, and the cases therefore require, in addition to criminal law and criminal procedure expertise, an in-depth understanding of the underlying civil law, as well as an understanding of the industry and other relevant circumstances. We are able to tailor teams which combine the required areas of expertise.
Thommessen also has comprehensive experience in handling other disputes arising in the wake of criminal investigations and other proceedings occasioned by government inspections. These may include tort disputes, employment law disputes and tax disputes, including VAT disputes. We have also assisted international companies placed under investigation for suspected corruption in Norway.
If the matter is not resolved at the investigation stage, criminal proceedings will inevitably follow. Thommessen has in recent years – with a high success rate – defended clients against alleged corruption, tax evasion, fraud, securities violations, etc., in a number of high-profile criminal proceedings. These are some of the highest-profile Økokrim prosecutions in recent years. We have also assisted on the largest competition law actions and similar actions brought by other government bodies.
Svein Aage Valen
Bendik Bang Pedersen