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Beth Forsythe, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Beth Forsythe, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

The POWER 30: Beth Forsythe

When a company runs into trouble either from the inside or the outside, an investigation follows.

Allegations may be embezzlement, bribery, sexual misconduct or mismanagement. Government enforcement may be looming, and a defense may be required.

Beth Forsythe of Dorsey & Whitney LLP can help. In her white collar and corporate investigations practice, Forsythe plans and conducts effective internal investigations and represents those under investigation by federal or state authorities for securities fraud, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, public corruption and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. Forsythe’s approach to these complicated issues is to quickly and accurately define the scope of the issue in order to help clients resolve it without wasting their resources.

Sometimes the situation calls for terminations, and sometimes remediation, Forsythe said. In some situations, the company may be growing more rapidly than its control structure, or it may lack checks and balances among management.

“Sometimes an organization will bring us in to figure out what happened,” and it may just be simple mismanagement, Forsythe said. “We look at risks. We don’t tell them who to fire. It’s all about mitigation of harm.”

During an investigation, Forsythe’s task is to be as discreet as possible because the process is really disruptive, she said. She doesn’t interview any employees until after three to four weeks into the investigation, when she has done a thorough document review.

A case may proceed from there to the defense phase, Forsythe said. The FCPA addresses bribery of government officials by U.S. companies for business advantage. It is applicable worldwide and extends specifically to publicly traded companies and their personnel, including officers, directors, employees, shareholders and agents.

The act also applies to foreign firms and persons who help facilitate or carry out corrupt payments in U.S. territory.

One way in which the law has developed is the increasing frequency of self-disclosure as a result of Department of Justice practices, which can benefit a company for taking that step. “DOJ has made meaningful steps to mitigate, so there’s incentive before the department gets too far in,” Forsythe said.