Tackling International Commercial Crime – Published by Corporate INT Nigeria: overview of ‘investigations’ as a discipline or process in Nigeria

Author: Babajide O Ogundipe, Partner

Publisher: Global Investigations Review (GIR) – The law and practice of international investigations

The engagement, in Nigeria, of lawyers in private practice to undertake investigations on behalf of private corporate clients is not, in the experience of this contributor, a particularly common occurrence. When such instructions have been received, they have required the conduct of investigations into a variety of matters, and not all such instructions have required investigations into allegations of misconduct.

The types of investigations that clients have requested have included things such as the concerns of an oil marketing company about lapses in various departments that were affecting financial performance. There were fears that these lapses could have been part of widespread fraud being perpetrated by senior management personnel, and the instructions required the review of both internal and external audit reports and to identify whether there were grounds to take disciplinary action (up to and including dismissals) against identified individuals.

Others have been in response to reports by anonymous whistleblowers alleging fraud or other misdeeds on the part of senior officials, requiring the conduct by external counsel of internal investigations and the interviewing of staff in an effort to ascertain whether the allegations made had any validity. Other investigations have been on behalf of insurers into cargo claims, where there were strong indications of organised fraud by both shippers and consignees to make claims of short delivery of goods shipped to Nigeria.Nigerian counsel have also been called upon to conduct independent investigations on behalf of individuals and corporations under investigation outside Nigeria on allegations of having been involved in misconduct that had taken place in Nigeria.One particularly interesting investigation arose from the need to take a closer look at frequent life insurance claims on the lives of individuals who visited Nigeria and died within days of being able to make claims on the policies. The insurance companies had noticed such claims increasing over a period of time and eventually decided to instruct an investigation by Nigerian counsel to review inquiries conducted on its behalf by Nigerian investigators.