Last week I complained about the poor quality of the training provided to investigators in developing country anticorruption agencies. Here I offer a (very) rough draft of the topics I think a quality course should cover. Comments, additional sources, and (gentle) critiques requested.
1) Basic case analysis: how to gather, assemble, and asses the facts in complex financial and white collar crimes. The emphasis would be on the creation of outlines and timelines. Other topics: the use of Excel (particularly the pivot table function for organizing and analyzing bank records and compilations of data) and report writing. Xan Raskin of the I-Sight group has a useful ten minute talk on writing effective reports here.
2) The elements of fraud and corruption crimes and the evidence required to establish them: Talks with prosecutors in a number of countries suggest this is an area that cannot be stressed enough. Prosecutors have told me they are handed files where proof of such basic elements as the suspect’s status as a government employee at the time the bribe was received is missing. All bribery statutes with which I am familiar require proof of some kind of intent. How to demonstrate intent on the basis of circumstantial evidence is an area where there is considerable confusion.
3) Interviewing suspects and witnesses: The topics would include use of the PEACE method, the technique now used by Scotland Yard and other developed country police forces and examining suspects and witnesses about documents. Douglas Star’s extraordinary piece in the December 2013 New Yorker on the shortcomings of the interview methods used by American investigators and the advantages of the PEACE model is must reading for American trainers. I-Sight, a commercial purveyor of investigative services, has much useful material on the PEACE method here including a handy one-pager on building rapport with an interviewee. Like the young American lawyers I trained early in my career, most investigators think that asking an interviewee a series of questions about a document that are all variations on “does this document say what it says it says” constitutes a sufficient examination on the document. Someone, somewhere must have a paper titled “20 questions to ask about a document” or something to that effect. If that person is reading this blog, please share it. My list is old and doesn’t cover questions about e-mails and other e-docs.
4) The fundamentals of finance and business. Many anticorruption investigators are recruited from the national police force and while they may come to the field with investigative skills, they often know little about such basic matters of business and finance as: what is a corporation and how is it formed, operated, and regulated; what are trusts and partnerships and how do they differ from corporations; how to read various financial statements; and so forth. An individual can successfully investigate homicide, rape, burglary, and other “street crimes” with little or no knowledge of these topics. Such knowledge is essential for an anticorruption investigation. Knowing that a corporation is registered in some jurisdiction and what information the registry is likely to contain is one example.
5) Cross border investigations: Particularly in developing countries, corruption almost invariably crosses national borders. The bribe payer will be a foreign firm or national or the national profiting by the corruption will hide the profits in another jurisdiction. Topics that must be covered include the difference between seeking intelligence and evidence from foreign law enforcement agencies; what type of information can be gleaned from the public records of another jurisdiction, what foundation is required for admitting such information at trial; and issues of privilege and confidentiality. UNODC one source of material for this topic: its step-by-step guide to writing a request for mutual legal assistance has proved useful and it has a variety of publications listing bilateral and multilateral treaties on extradition and MLA and providing advice on international cooperation on criminal justice matters.
6) Training on corruption in different sectors: Investigating corruption, or indeed any business-related financial requires an understanding of the industry in which the business operates and where and how corruption manifests itself. An investigator that does not know what a bill of quantity is or the role of the supervising engineer under a FIDIC contract will be at sea when it comes to determining whether a construction project has been corrupted. Ditto for industry-specific information in health, electric power, education, and so forth. So far as I know, no such course on any industry now exists. Information to the contrary is most welcome.
7) Corruption in procurement: As this blog has noted in several previous posts (here, here, here, and here) in developing states procurement corruption is all too common and often particularly harmful. Training on procurement corruption might begin with the basics of the investigators’ national procurement law. Examples would include when deviations from competitive procurement are allowed (an area prone to much abuse), the requirements for publicizing tenders, and conflict of interest rules governing those on the tender evaluation committees. A thorough grounding in behavior that should raise suspicions (“red flags”) and how to follow up on such suspicions should follow. U4’s page on financial management and procurement is one of many useful sources. What I have yet to find is helpful materials on how to investigate procurement corruption. Again, readers who know of good sources are asked to comment.
Other training areas, such as effective investigative decision making for supervisors and managers, merit in-depth discussion and will be the subject of later posts.