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Responding to a Federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) Subpoena November 4, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in Articles.
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You and/or your company may receive a subpoena from something called the OIG or Office of the Inspector General.  This could be very confusing and your business attorney may know nothing about the OIG, how to handle the subpoena or what this may be about.  You need good advice ASAP as  your response to this subpoena may have a long term impact on you and your company.

First, you have to understand that the OIG is not one actual agency.  There are actually 69 different and autonomous OIGs.  They  employ criminal investigators, forensic auditors, evaluators, inspectors and a variety of other specialists.   OIG Investigations may be internal, targeting government employees, or external, targeting grant recipients, contractors, or recipients of the various loans and subsidies offered through the thousands of federal domestic and foreign assistance programs.  Most importantly for this post is that if they uncover criminal activity, they will turn that information over to the DOJ for prosecution.

All of the federal OIGs share information and some coordination through the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency (ECIE), as created or amended in 1992 by Executive Order 12805.

Some of the OIG’s to be more concerned about include:

Environmental Protection Agency-OIG
Department of Health and Human Services-OIG
Department of Labor-OIG
Small Business Administration-OIG
Social Security Administration-OIG
Department of Transportation-OIG
Securities and Exchange Commission-OIG 
 

Those are just a few examples but just because an OIG doesn’t sound criminal, doesn’t mean that you or your company are out of the woods.  Take, for example, the Department of Labor. What could they possibly be concerned about in the criminal context?  Well, just look at their home page:

In addition, the OIG is unique among Inspectors
General because it has an “external” program function to conduct criminal investigations to combat the influence of labor racketeering and organized crime in the nation’s labor unions. We conduct labor racketeering investigations in three areas: employee benefit plans, labor-management relations, and internal union affairs.

Surprising huh?  Also keep in mind that a violation of a regulation may be a related to an on-going criminal investigation or one may lead to the other.

Now that you understand the seriousness of an OIG subpoena, you need a serious response.  Make sure you retain an attorney that actually has a plan to not only handle the subpoena but to investigate the situation to determine any and all criminal liability and prepare accordingly.  Too many attorneys seem to think that their job is to just help process the subpoena.  In my opinion, that is just 2% of the attorney’s job. 

Call me if you have received an OIG subpoena.

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