“We also make house calls – your tax investigators! ” – is how tax investigators have advertised their activities on ballpoint pens and coffee mugs. What is perceived as amusing by an uninvolved reader can become bitter reality for the person affected by a raid. Anyone can be suddenly affected by a raid of a home or a company (“dawn raid”): individuals as well as companies.
It is therefore all the more important that companies in particular are prepared for a raid of their premises and have taken organizational measures beforehand. For example, communication channels should be regulated and a contact person for the investigating authorities should be designated (this is often an employee from the company’s legal or compliance department).
On the day of the raid, the officers have the advantage of the surprise effect on their side and sometimes use this deliberately to “get into conversation” with the persons concerned. In this situation, those affected tend to incriminate themselves without thinking – this must be avoided! In practice, it has proven helpful if the company immediately consults a criminal defense lawyer or a company defense lawyer who immediately goes to the raid location. There he or she can support the employees of the company concerned and take over the communication with the investigating authorities. This can alleviate potential excessive demands on the persons involved on the company’s side and avoid momentous mistakes at this early stage of the proceedings.
Company raids are typically conducted at the beginning of normal business hours. In practice, companies can then be confronted with an overwhelming number of raiders from various authorities: in addition to the public prosecutor’s office, the police – and depending on the accusation – the tax investigation and/or officials from data protection authorities or fine authorities such as the Federal Cartel Office are involved in the raid.
The raid mostly serves to find evidence. At the beginning of the measure, the investigating officer of the police or the public prosecutor’s office will hand a raid warrant to a company representative. This will state the accusation for which the raid is being conducted and the evidence that the investigating authorities are looking for.
It has proven successful to work cooperatively with the investigating authorities. This means that a binding and friendly atmosphere can be created. One will not be able to prevent the raid measure at the time of its execution, so one should by no means obstruct the investigative measure – this would only have further detrimental consequences. But: A statement on the matter should at most be made in the presence of the defense lawyer or the company defense lawyer. It is often difficult that the investigating authorities want to seize large amounts of data from the company’s IT. In some cases, computers and other data carriers are taken away by the authorities for inspection, with the result that they are no longer available for operational business. To prevent this, efforts should be made to ensure that the data sought is transferred to external data carriers in the presence of a company representative on site. In this way, the company can also access its hardware and the digital documents stored on it in the further course of the investigation. The same applies to paper documents: If these are to be taken away for review, it can often be achieved that copies can be made of the documents that are currently important in day-to-day business.
A raid is always associated with stress for those affected. In a handout you will find our three most important tips for behavior during a raid.
Prof. Dr. Lasse Dinter LL.M. (white-collar crime) – criminal defense lawyer, former public prosecutor and criminal judge
RA Dr. Christian Jakob LL.M. – Criminal defense lawyer