WG Investigations

Background of the Working Group Investigations


«The company is conducting a full internal investigation». This public statement accompanies virtually every modern corporate affair reported in the news media. The awareness of Swiss corporations and their senior management of the importance of internal investigations has strongly increased over the past few years. Civil, criminal, regulatory and reputational exposure regularly triggers senior management’s duty to investigate and to assess potential misconduct within the firm. The WG Investigations, co-chaired by Roman Huber and Daniel S. Weber, serves as a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas and aims to bring together practitioners involved in internal and regulatory investigations.

The WG is open to ECS members as well as other interested parties, such as ethics & compliance officers, investigation specialists, private practice lawyers specializing in investigations, regulators, prosecutors, forensic accountants, consultants, risk managers, auditors, eDiscovery counsel, etc. The WG organizes regular meetings, presentations and conference calls to promote the exchange of know-how and experience, the discussion of important developments and key topics and to further networking among all those who share an interest in internal and regulatory investigations. In particular, case studies will be presented to discuss trigger events, governance, life cycle as well as project set-ups of investigations. This includes related legal (e.g., legal privilege, data privacy) and non-legal issues (e.g., interviewing skills, crisis management and communication).

Upcoming and past events

Events in 2021

11 February 2021 – Webinar: Discrimination in the Workspace – A Compliance Case

In times of #MeToo and #BLM, organizations increasingly need to deal with discrimination in the workspace. Prominent cases like Weinstein, Epstein, Oxfam, Uber or Ubisoft etc. demonstrate the substantial business risks for organizations which is approaching other substantial corporate risks. The webinar covered how discrimination risks can be integrated into a Compliance Management System, gave an insight into preventive measures and discussed special features to be taken into account when investigating such incidents internally.

Dr. Rita Pikó, LL.M. and Dr. Laurenz Uhl, LL.M., both Partners at Pikó Uhl Rechtsanwälte AG, Zurich specialized in corporate compliance and internal investigation, discussed with the Working Group their experience in advising on discrimination cases in the compliance context. They shared own best practices with the audience and discussion with the speakers was moderated by Daniel L. Bühr and Daniel S. Weber

Events during 2020

08 October 2020 – Webinar: AML Investigations in 2020 – Interactions between Financial Intermediaries and the Swiss Money Laundering Reporting Office

Dr. Doris Hutzler, Partner at LCR Services AG, and Daniel Thelesklaf, AML/CFT/Anti-Corruption Expert and former Head of the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) gave an in-depth demonstration of the Swiss SAR framework with a particular focus on the interaction and cooperation between FIs and MROS: Which investigative steps should be taken by the FI before filing a SAR and where does MROS potentially pick up? Their investigative interplay is at the core of this event.

Dr. Doris Hutzler is a very experienced AML expert. Before she joined LCR Services AG as a Partner, Dr. Hutzler served several years within Financial Crime Compliance of Credit Suisse as the Head of FCC Investigations Switzerland.

Daniel Thelesklaf is an internationally renowned AML/CFT/Anti-Corruption Expert and the former Head of the Swiss Financial Intelligence Unit (MROS). Mr. Thelesklaf has a distinguished career in the fight against money laundering and corruption, having served in various national and international AML-related roles.

  • Presentation Doris Hutzler/Daniel Thelesklaf
  • Q&A Session moderated by Daniel S. Weber, Co-Chair Working Group Investigations
  • An in-person apéro after the event at Café Black, Färberstrasse 6, 8008 Zurich

15 September 2020 – Sexual Harassment Investigations – Best Practice Meeting / Webinar

The prevention of sexual harassment and the protection of employees’ privacy, integrity and health is a key obligation of all employers in Switzerland. Still, when asked what they specifically do to protect their employees preventively and investigate and sanction instances of sexual harassment, the employers’ policies and processes are often unclear and rarely applied.

Lic. Iur. Monika Hirzel-Karolak, manager and owner of BeTrieb – Konfliktberatung für Unternehmen und Institutionen – Mobbing und sexuelle Belästigung in Zurich is an expert on prevention and investigation of sexual harassment cases. She presented best prevention and investigation practices. The language of the presentation is German.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion in English with Monika Hirzel-Karolak, Florian Bigler (Employee Relations EMEA, Google) and Ursula Gut-Sulzer (Mediator and External person of trust, Gut-zusammenleben GmbH, Winterthur). The panel was moderated by Sandra Middel, ECS Board Member and CCO of Clariant.

Events during 2019

On 27 November 2019, Peter Braun, Senior Legal Counsel with ENQUIRE Attorneys-at-Law, joined the ECS Working Groups Investigations and Whistleblowing and shared his insights into Whistleblowing concepts, rules and processes in Switzerland and the U.S. While Switzerland is struggling to introduce robust rules on Whistleblowing in the first place, Whistleblowing in the U.S. “is as American as apple pie”. As the former Head of Whistleblowing Matters for the Americas for a global Swiss bank, Peter gained a unique experience in the U.S. legal and regulatory environment and was in a perfect position to compare the two countries and their concepts. The WG’s were very lucky to have his expert insights! After Peter’s presentation, a distinguished panel of whistleblowing experts including Walter Mäder (Retired Federal Prosecutor), Christian Hauser (Professor at HTW Chur and Co-Author of the 2019 Whistleblowing Report), Peter Braun and Daniel Weber (Moderator, Co-Chair WG Investigations) discussed the Swiss draft proposal on Whistleblowing as well as the recently published ECS White Paper on Whistleblower protection in the Swiss private sector. The panel agreed that the adoption of the new WB law would send a strong signal. The event was sold out with more than 70 people attending.

On 10 September 2019, Dominic Steffen, Partner at the Zurich Law Firm Winzeler Steffen, shared his insights into how to establish the facts in an internal investigation and at the same time adhere to Swiss employment and data privacy laws. Dominic discussed which investigative steps employers may perform to assess potential misconduct without violating the rights of their employees and what rights employees have and which not. Dominic provided the Working Group with an overview about the review of business and private communications, the employees duty to provide complete and truthful information, potential employee representation during interview and the use of employee interview minutes. The event was a great success with more than 80 people attending.

Events during 2018

The WG Investigations was officially launched at a kick-off event on 7 June 2018, 17:30 in Zurich (Speaker: Dr. Claudia Fritsche; Topic: Conducting Internal Investigations in 2018 – Key Topics and Pitfalls). Claudia Fritsche’s introduction on internal investigations in 2018 provided the audience insights into key features, topics and pitfalls.

The second meeting of the Working Group was held at the Zurich offices of AlixPartners in September 2018: Carina Nilles demonstrated live how to leverage digital investigations for better results using cutting-edge investigations tools.

The third meeting took place in October 2018: Leo Hattenbach and Daniel S. Weber discussed how to conduct top-quality investigation interviews including skills, strategies and techniques. For 2019, the Working Group is preparing events in connection with crisis communication/management and investigation project management/governance. Also, we will interview a prosecutor to have insights on internal investigations in a criminal context.