There are many reasons why the FBI might want to investigate a business. Whatever the case may be, this can be a stressful and troubling time for many business owners in Albany. Whether you run a small business or a major enterprise, it’s understandably unsettling to have one of the well-funded and trained organizations in the world on your doorstep. In many situations, you might not even understand why you’re suddenly being investigated. The FBI might be rather tight-lipped about the nature of their investigation, leaving you playing the guessing game. When you learn more about the potential reasons a business might be investigated in the United States, it becomes easier to develop a clear understanding of why you might be the subject of an investigation by federal law enforcement officials.
How the FBI Interacts with Businesses
There are a number of reasons the FBI might interact with a business:
- Domestic security
- Cyber threats
- Protecting national infrastructure
- Preventing intelligence activities (espionage)
- Intellectual property theft or privacy
- Email fraud
- Health care fraud
- Workplace violence
- Mortgage fraud
It’s worth mentioning that simply receiving communications from the FBI might not be a cause for concern. They may simply want to do business with you or form some kind of strategic partnership. This is actually quite common.
What Should I Do During an Investigation?
If you are clearly facing an investigation by the FBI, there are a number of things you should know:
- Never Lie: Always be honest with FBI agents. Leaving out key information or not answering questions is in the same general ballpark as outright lying to the FBI, and you may face an obstruction of justice charge as a result.
- Ascertain Whether they Have a Warrant: Always ask whether or not the FBI has a warrant. You are perfectly within your rights to do so.
- You Can Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent: You are guaranteed the right to remain silent under the constitution. You might want to exercise this right and speak with an attorney before officially communicating with the FBI.
Can the Government Look at My Tax Returns?
Another related question you might be asking is whether or not the federal government can legally look at your business records, such as your tax returns. The first thing you need to know is that tax returns are not public in the United States, and they are completely confidential. Only the IRS or your tax preparer can view these documents, and they cannot release tax returns to third parties without your consent. That being said, the IRS and tax preparers are allowed to release information to specific government agencies (such as the FBI) if you are dealing with criminal proceedings. Even then, the guidelines for such disclosures are very strict.
Get Help From a Professional
If you are facing these kinds of issues, it makes sense to get help from an experienced legal professional. You can receive meaningful assistance from attorneys who specialize in business law, such as The Towne Law Firm, P.C. Not only can these experts help you avoid criminal charges, but they can also ensure that the federal government is not overstepping its boundaries over the course of their investigations.