Creating confidence and clarity
Preventing, responding to and remediating a wide range of business threats, risks and complex issues.
Are you involved in arbitration proceedings? Are you struggling with calculating damages? Do you find the other party’s claim exaggerated? Do you need an expert witness on economics to support you in an ongoing litigation? Do you need to review all relevant documents, perform a valuation and be provided with one final figure?
My company builds solar power plants – a business area subject to regulations and political changes. Last year, we concluded a contract on constructing a power plant with a partner company. Three months after signing the contract, while the construction was already in progress, the government passed a new law which set additional requirements on power plant construction and required a part of the plant to be replaced. Based on the concluded contract, we insisted that it was our project partner’s responsibility to replace the relevant parts. They disagreed and refused to replace the parts at their own expense. We ended up replacing the construction parts ourselves, resulting in extra costs and a delay in connecting to the grid. Significant profits which could have been generated from energy sales were lost. We needed an expert in calculating damages, somebody with local knowledge and experience in the energy field. PwC processed hundreds of our construction documents and invoices, researched the solar market, spoke with our management, reviewed past financial statements and evaluated the actual damages as well as the lost profits. We now have a detailed damages calculation report in hand that justifies every single figure and a reputable expert witness ready to assist at the hearing – we feel much more optimistic about winning this case.
Have you received a whistleblower letter accusing someone in your company of fraud, bribery, money laundering or some other misbehaviour? Has an internal auditor discovered suspicious accounting discrepancies in your books? Are you sure your own investigation has uncovered all wrong-doers and the full loss?
A compliance officer in our subsidiary received a whistleblower letter accusing one of the managers of a range of crimes, including asset misappropriation, bribery and involvement in suspicious transactions with third parties.
Moreover, the internal audit department discovered that some data in the accounting books had been manipulated.
Before approaching the police or taking action, we wanted to establish the facts of the allegations and to find out whether there was any substance to them. Any such investigation is a very sensitive matter and if done incorrectly can result in serious trouble. We wanted to use someone with broad expertise in this field, and that’s why we asked PwC to perform the investigation.
First, PwC reviewed the documentation including relevant accounting data and conducted background checks on entities potentially involved in the fraudulent scheme. As soon as they had a clearer picture of what had happened, PwC performed an e-mail review and interviewed a number of employees in order to obtain even more evidence.
At the end of the investigation, we received a report confirming all the allegations described in the whistleblower letter supported by the relevant evidence. To our surprise, PwC uncovered even more fraudulent actions taking place in our company and identified that other employees were also involved in or were knowledgeable of the fraudulent scheme, including the chief accountant.
Thanks to PwC, we were able to take appropriate steps against the employees responsible before more damage was done.
However, that wasn’t the end of our cooperation with PwC. After submitting their report, PwC worked closely with our lawyers in order to prepare our criminal complaint against the perpetrators. Currently, PwC is working with our management to develop an action plan that will strengthen our company’s controls against potential fraud.
Are you struggling to determine if you are using the correct sanctions lists to screen your customers and transactions? Do you have any doubts that all the necessary information is being screened and that no manipulations are being performed? Do you want to know if your sanctions filter is efficient and effective?
When a new investor from the USA provided capital to our bank, and the regulatory review was scheduled within the next six months, I wanted to be sure that my sanctions screening model was compliant, reliable and up-to-date.
Having in mind the increasing regulatory scrutiny over sanctions regimes compliance, their fast-changing nature and impressive fines and reputational damages in case of non-compliance, I decided to invite PwC to run a comprehensive sanctions model validation of our bank.
I needed to ensure that:
PwC experts provided a comprehensive assessment of all the components of the sanctions model. They tracked the path of each payment through the complex IT systems of the bank and challenged all the policies and procedures when doing job shadowing.
Additionally, PwC experts tested my sanctions screening filter using special PwC-built software and provided a complex analysis of the filter’s performance.
Having a very detailed analysis and review of all the processes connected to sanctions, I was able to focus my efforts on eliminating identified gaps and be ready for the regulatory review.
Do you suspect that your employee’s laptops and mailboxes may contain valuable information? Do you think someone is leaking your confidential data? Have you or your employees fallen victim to a phishing attack?
When my competitor introduced an almost identical copy of my product to the market a mere month after my company did, three times in a row, always just a few percentage points cheaper, I was sure someone was leaking our materials and contracts to the competitor. I had reason to suspect that some of my employees were in contact with that competitor, but how could I prove it? I really wanted to look at their computers, but my IT department explained that we needed highly specialized technical skills and equipment that we didn’t have in our organization. I also wasn’t really sure what I could and could not look at from a legal point of view.
When I reached out to PwC, their forensic experts explained the technical process and worked closely with our external counsel to ensure the investigation would not breach employment or data protection laws. After a strategy had been agreed, their technical experts went in and secured evidence from a number of laptop computers.
The PwC experts then processed, filtered and reviewed several tens of gigabytes of communication, deleted files and various other evidence found on the laptops.
Shortly afterwards, I knew which employee should be asked some very difficult and very specific questions.
Are you afraid that your business partners are not trustworthy? Do you think someone could harm your reputation? Do you want to make sure that company you are acquiring has adequate integrity and public standing?
When our company’s name started to be mentioned in connection with one of our largest business partners who had been publicly accused of fraud and corruption, I realized people in our local office already knew the majority of the allegations from various sources. But we weren’t aware of these local matters, and our local team didn’t really see this as a major risk to our reputation.
We started to wonder whether other business partners could be involved in matters such as corruption or alleged fraud and as a consequence could expose us to reputational risks. We quickly realized that we had neither the specialized knowledge nor the internal resources necessary to address these concerns in an efficient and consistent manner.
PwC experts assisted us with setting up policies for onboarding new business partners, and they also reviewed the reputation of our existing business partners from different countries. Currently, PwC checks the background and reputation of our potential business partners. Our contact with PwC is able to provide us with information about companies around the world, and we do not need to look for other contacts or communicate with a number of people. Instead, we get reports in a standardized format where we know exactly what is covered and where in the report it is addressed.
In addition to the background checks PwC is preparing for us regularly, we are even considering training for our procurement team about the risks connected with onboarding a business partner without proper integrity due diligence. We feel that with their breadth of experience across different sectors, the PwC specialists would be in a great position to explain to our colleagues what steps to take to identify and avoid risks rather than wait for the media to come calling!
Partner, Head of Forensic Services in SEE
Manager, PwC Slovenia