GIR 100 2020

Control Risks

Professional notice

Control Risks started out as a professional security firm but is now regularly relied on for its range of expertise from business intelligence and forensic accounting investigations to compliance advice.

The firm

Initially launched in 1975, Control Risks capitalised on the growth of large western companies doing business in unfamiliar – and potentially risky – locations in the 1990s. Besides crisis management and incident response services, Control Risks is now equipped to handle all aspects of internal investigations with an impressive partner list comprising former law enforcement and intelligence officers, fraud examiners, forensic accountants, cybersecurity experts, business strategists and compliance professionals. In 2019, the firm was shortlisted for the GIR Award for Consultancy of the Year.

The firm by its own count employs approximately 3,000 staff in 36 offices across 26 countries, providing due diligence checks, supply chain research, forensic accounting and other bespoke investigation services for major companies and government agencies across the world.

Greg Esslinger, a senior partner and former FBI special agent, leads Control Risks’ compliance, forensics and investigations practice in the Americas – the firm’s largest team – from Washington, DC. Esslinger specialises in global corruption and complex financial fraud investigations and related due diligence. He has almost 20 years’ experience and has handled investigations in more than 40 countries.

Other DC-based partners to know include Michele Wiener, who leads the regulatory risk and investigations in the Americas, and Al Park, the firm’s global technology leader. 

Wiener regularly assists multinationals facing allegations of bribery and corruption, while Park oversees any kind of data collection and analysis for internal investigations and complex commercial disputes. 

In London, Jonathan Brown heads up the forensics practice across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He is a trained accountant whose experience skews towards fraud and corrupt accounting issues. He has investigated an accounting fraud that led to losses in excess of £100 million, as well as bribery allegations against a British defence contractor operating in the Middle East.

Operations in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay are headed by senior partner Geert Aalbers, who manages complex investigations into fraud, corruption and other ethics breaches from São Paulo. Aalbers has worked in the region for over 20 years.

Andrew Macintosh is another name to know. He leads Control Risks’ forensics and technology solutions in the Asia Pacific region from the Singapore office. A former intelligence analyst with the New South Wales Crime Commission in Australia, Macintosh has led investigations on behalf of multinational companies across the region.

Partner Wayne Malgas heads up Control Risks’ fraud and business intelligence practice in Southern Africa from Johannesburg. He specialises in asset tracing and corruption reviews and was formerly the chief investigating officer at the now-disbanded Directorate of Special Investigations in South Africa.

Hong Kong-based senior partner Mavis Tan, who speaks four languages, including English, Mandarin and Cantonese, leads the firm’s forensics practice for greater China and north Asia, and has experience working on fraud, bribery and money laundering cases.

Also in Hong Kong is Jessica Pyman, a partner and head of business intelligence matters in the Asia-Pacific region. She leads dedicated teams located in Hong Kong, Shanghai, India, Singapore, South Korea and Sydney. Pyman has previously investigated historical money laundering allegations arising from an inheritance dispute within a prominent Korean family, among other matters.

Recent events

Control Risks has helped German engineering firm SAP with forensic and business intelligence support in an investigation into allegations of corruption at a subsidiary in South Africa. SAP in 2018 reportedly admitted to compliance breaches and indications of misconduct in public-sector deals.

In the recent past, Control Risks’ largest-ever consulting case saw it work alongside Hogan Lovells to investigate serious charges of bribery, fraud and bid-rigging at the state-owned Brazilian energy company, Eletrobras. Over 80 forensic accountants and cyber-investigators were hired from Brazil, Panama, the US, Australia, China and the UK to assess the claims, which saw investigators sift through 250 terabytes of email data alone. Eletrobras reached a settlement agreement with the SEC in 2018, under which the company paid a US$2.5 million penalty and did not have to admit the SEC’s findings.

Control Risks has also been relied on by the individuals appointed as the independent monitors to banks including Credit Suisse, Citigroup, and Deutsche Bank, as part of settlement agreements with the US Department of Justice.

Network

Control Risks operates from 36 offices across five continents.

Clients

Control Risks partners have been sought out by law firms including Morrison & Foerster, Hogan Lovells, Jenner & Block and Fieldfisher. It has known to have worked for Eletrobras and SAP.

Track record

Control Risks helped a US-based multinational engineering firm get to the bottom of corruption allegations within its Southeast Asia operations. The firm deployed security staff, e-discovery experts, forensic accountants and intelligence professionals to multiple locations in South East Asia to discreetly collect data and conduct forensic audits that exposed improper connections between senior managers and government officials. Control Risks then conducted risk assessments of the client’s global business and assisted with compliance programme remediation, resulting in a self-disclosure to the US Department of Justice, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Control Risks is a specialist risk consultancy committed to helping clients create secure, compliant and resilient organisations. We bring a keen understanding of the varied and complex environments in which our clients conduct business, enabling us to provide a realistic approach to preventing, responding to and resolving critical issues and crises. From cross-border investigations, high-profile monitorships, complex litigation and disputes, investigative due diligence, and compliance and risk mitigation strategies to our incorporation of cutting-edge technology and data analysis, we’re proud to be trusted advisers for our clients and their legal counsel.

With 3,000 professionals in 36 offices and on-premises, and cloud data centres around the world, our multidisciplinary teams handle everything from complex financial and accounting issues requiring the use of electronic data and evidence to delivering meaningful intelligence and technology. Whether it involves corruption or a cyber breach, we approach the most challenging investigations in a seamless, cross-border and efficient fashion by leveraging our forensics collections, eDiscovery, data analytics, language skills and bespoke capabilities. We utilise best practices in investigations, mindful that our work may be presented to a court, regulatory agency or prosecutorial authority.

Areas of focus

  • Regulatory enforcement support. We are experienced in conducting investigations relating to regulatory compliance and government enforcement. We work alongside our clients and their counsel, investigating issues and reporting them to government authorities worldwide.
  • White-collar crime and internal investigations. For more than 20 years we have helped our clients and their counsel investigate and resolve issues from embezzlement and financial statement fraud to corruption, money laundering and conflicts of interest.
  • Recovery-led investigations. In jurisdictions where legal problems are also political risk issues, traditional investigative approaches can be harmful. Control Risks has developed a unique recovery-led approach, refined over many years of combining crisis management and investigations expertise, and designed to make indirect costs, security issues and reputation damage more controllable.
  • Forensic accounting. Our investigative teams combine forensic accounting and financial analysis skills with practical business experience to provide dependable, professional support.
  • Enhanced due diligence. We undertake thorough examinations of companies and their executives through public record research and discreet inquiries with local human sources, including in remote locations and emerging markets.
  • Monitorship support. We have served as and supported court- and government-appointed monitors regarding a variety of integrity and compliance issues within various industries.

People and innovation

Control Risks employs a global complement of investigative professionals with relevant real-world experience and unique abilities to apply local business and political context to your investigation.

A commitment to innovation is woven throughout our business strategy and daily working practice. The diversity of our business and the fact that our people are encouraged to work across specialties and geographies makes our approach inherently innovative. On any given day, forensic accountants and compliance experts might work with an investigative journalist, a former CIA agent and a team of country risk analysts to help a multinational client with a crisis-inducing investigation. Or forensics collections and cyber security specialists might collaborate with data analytics and compliance experts to investigate a multi-country bribery and corruption issue, helping clients navigate their responsibilities to cooperate with regulators and remediate the issue. Our people regularly say it is this unique feature of Control Risks—the ability to work with and learn from experts from other cultures and professional backgrounds—that enables them to regularly develop solutions for clients that are more comprehensive and creative than anything previously thought possible. Control Risks has a set of capabilities unlike any other consultancy, enabling us to creatively deliver the insights and expertise needed to tackle cross-border investigations.

Contact us

Learn more here or contact us for further information. 

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