With the increased globalization of today’s marketplace, the need to conduct an international background investigation has become increasingly apparent. Hedge funds are based internationally. Corporate executives frequently fill overseas posts. Attorneys are routinely faced with international parties to litigation and investigations.
Running an international background investigation has its own unique sets of challenges, but ultimately, hiring an experienced investigator with a network of reliable and credible local sources is key to an efficient and successful international background investigation.
￼Your business isn’t confined to the United States – so why would you limit your investigation?
True, the complexities of international background investigation or due diligence investigation can be daunting and expensive. The key to any successful international background investigation is to work with an experienced investigator who can not only manage reliable investigative sources throughout the globe, but who can review and analyze the data from multiple sources to “connect the dots.” A skilled investigator will work with you to first answer two critical questions: (1) What jurisdictions should we cover? and (2) What information can we reasonably expect to receive?
The first step is to identify the countries and local jurisdictions where the subject has lived and worked. It will be important to consider the length of time that the individual has lived and worked in each area as well as the amount of information that can be retrieved from those jurisdictions. Also to be considered is the possibility that the subject may have had temporary international assignments (i.e. did not established residency) in a country or frequently traveled to a specific location.
￼What to expect?
In any international investigation, it is important to have reasonable expectations with regard to the availability of records in each jurisdiction. Local laws and customs, language difference, and access to country-specific databases can pose a significant challenge. Generally speaking, many of the public records that one would expect to find in a U.S.-based investigation are not routinely available in other countries. For example, EU privacy laws and data protection requirements may prevent the disclosure of some property and litigation records. In other countries, there are few databases and information banks, and research is a time-consuming, manual task for local investigators.
￼Are criminal records available?
One of the most basic searches in a U.S.-based investigation, a criminal records check, has proven to be one of the most challenging in international investigations. In a limited number of countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, criminal histories may be searched only with the express written consent of the subject. In most other nations, however, criminal records are impossible to lawfully obtain and investigators must rely on other lawful means to obtain this information (e.g. local language media searches, human intelligence, etc.). There are a number of websites that claim to have criminal records from various countries across the world, but this is simply not true. The information is either gleaned from online newspapers or combination of international Watch Lists, OFAC lists or other readily available sources.
An experienced investigator will have local contacts to help outline document and intelligence availability within the necessary jurisdictions. Because of the limitations of international record searching, having this network of reliable and credible local sources is key to an efficient and successful international background investigation.