In the past year, Charles River Associates has launched a practice adding business intelligence, risk assessments, and data analytics services for international investigations, to complement its existing forensic services practice.
Charles River Associates (CRA) was founded in 1965. Its forensic services practice is relatively new still, having been launched in late 2015 with a primary focus on forensic accounting, cybercrime and digital forensic investigations. Despite its recent launch, the firm says it is now its most-used and third-largest practice.
In 2019, the firm strengthened its offering by launching its risk, investigations and analytics practice. The group is led by Robert Brunner in Los Angeles and Peter Nolan in New York, while Kristofer Swanson in Chicago leads the forensics services practice.
Swanson is an expert in anti-money laundering, fraud and financial forensics. He has held leading forensic roles at major professional services firms including PwC, Navigant and KPMG.
Brunner and Nolan both joined the firm recently from FTI Consulting, along with Neal Hochberg in New York. Brunner is a seasoned practitioner whose expertise lies in data collection and analysis in complex financial cases, whether government investigations or class action litigation.
Nolan is a Mandarin speaker who has worked on investigations ranging from Bank Secrecy Act, sanctions to FCPA violations and more, while Hochberg – a former monitor who oversaw an FCPA settlement between engineering company JGC Corporation and the US Department of Justice – specialises in financial misreporting, fraud and corruption cases.
Also in Chicago is vice president Cuyler Robinson who is listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations as a digital forensics expert thought leader in 2020. Robinson has taken the lead on cyber investigations into trade secret theft, security attacks, white-collar crimes and data breaches.
Others named in Who’s Who Legal include forensic accountants Paul Doxey in London and Peter Resnick in Boston. Doxey has led large-scale investigations in Europe and Asia and spent two years seconded at the Bank of England’s investigations unit and at the UK Financial Services Authority, now the Financial Conduct Authority. Resnick handles significant fraud cases and has been a frequent expert witness in trials and in arbitration cases.
Other names to know at the firm include vice president Bill Hardin, who, together with vice president Scott Solomon and Swanson was part of the team that joined CRA in 2015 to launch the forensic services practice. Hardin and Solomon are both based in Chicago and both deal with cyber incidents. Hardin focuses on cyber incident response and Solomon deals with cybercrime-related insurance claims.
CRA also houses US government experience in former Manhattan federal prosecutor Elaine Wood, who advises on foreign bribery, anti-money laundering and sanctions matters, as well as related compliance.
Professionals at the firm have previously worked for a technology company and helped investigate whether it sold products to countries on US sanctions lists. Following the internal inquiry, the company voluntarily self-disclosed potential breaches to the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
CRA was retained to conduct an internal investigation into a range of alleged misconduct by the former CEO of an asset management company. The firm directed forensic accountants to analyse the former chief’s management of company funds and assets, and had investigators conduct staff interviews related to #MeToo allegations.
CRA has over 750 professionals located in nine countries around the world. Its forensic services practice has over 40 consultants in the US and Europe.
The firm can claim several major law firms as clients including Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Winston & Strawn, Kirkland & Ellis, Jones Day, Taylor Wessing, Mayer Brown, Mishcon de Reya, Vinson & Elkins, and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
CRA helped an international medical device company identify the extent of improper payments made to government officials at a subsidiary that led to the company’s self-disclosure of potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations to US authorities. The firm assisted in analysing the company’s accounting system as well as various payments made across India.
The firm was also retained by a multinational provider of offshore contract drilling services to help in-house counsel in an investigation over allegations of improper payments and kickbacks. The investigation found millions of dollars of improper payments which led the company to fire one of its executives.
CRA was retained by a law firm on behalf of a communications company to assist in an investigation into allegations of improper revenue recognition, kickbacks and more. The firm worked on-site in Mexico to interview company personnel, analyse various transactions and provide a report to the company’s general counsel.
CRA has also helped companies investigate the theft of trade secrets – a current area of priority for US enforcement authorities. They were retained by an international pharmaceutical company to help investigate an employee who took lucrative research information to a competing start-up in China. The data was returned and the company received a settlement. CRA also worked for a global information services company to help it investigate whether former US and UK employees brought valuable trade secrets to a competing company they created. Ultimately, the data was returned and a settlement agreed.