If you are working in Oklahoma and hear mention of “the SEC,” your mind might first go to our beloved Sooners’ fierce gridiron rivals at Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. But if the SEC - short for the Securities and Exchange Commission - comes knocking at your business’ door, you could be in store for workplace drama that hits home for you far more than any Saturday football game. You might think that SEC investigations only deal with those who work in financial institutions, but the SEC pursues federal investigations of a wide array of individuals and businesses, including anyone involved with selling investments to the public, as well as investors (just ask legendary Sooners Coach Barry Switzer who was sued by the SEC after trading in stocks based on information he heard while sitting in the bleachers at his son’s track meet). Thus, regardless of whether you work in the financial industry not, it is possible that the SEC could be investigating your Oklahoma employer, which raises an important question: do you need a lawyer?
Your Employer May Not Tell You About an SEC Investigation
One key aspect of SEC investigations you should understand is that the SEC often reaches out to companies and asks for voluntary cooperation from the company in identifying potential wrongdoing at the company that violates SEC rules. The SEC could have been prompted by a whistleblower, its own observation of activity, or routine investigation procedure, but, in any case, companies will often keep the news of the investigation close to the vest, with perhaps only the board of directors and/or general counsel being made aware.
There are several reasons for this, but one reason is that companies will often try to resolve the investigation by conducting their own internal investigation to determine whether employees either intentionally or unintentionally violated federal law and will then take remedial action against those employees while possibly providing incriminating information against those employees to the SEC in exchange for potential leniency.
Your Employer’s Lawyers Are Not Your Lawyers
Thus, if your company’s in-house lawyers or outside lawyers who have been brought in begin investigating the financial activities of employees - for example through removing documents or files from your possession or sitting you down for interviews related to you business activities - it is possible that there is an SEC investigation in progress, even if the acronym “SEC” is never mentioned to you.
Many employees make the mistake of thinking that their company’s in-house or outside attorneys represent their interests and/or are acting as their lawyers. But the truth is that the lawyers represent the interests of the company, and while they may not be “out to get you,” they certainly don’t have your interests (e.g. protecting you from civil and criminal penalties and/or protecting your job) as their primary goal, and may even use the information you provide to your detriment if doing so will help the company.
Contact a Lawyer Who Can Tell You Whether You Need a Lawyer
Outside lawyers are legally obligated to inform you that they do not represent your interests in such matters, but that message may not always be delivered or made clear. Nor can those lawyers answer the question of whether you need a lawyer, as they are beholden to protect the company’s interests, not yours, so evaluating whether you need an attorney is neither part of their job nor a task they can handle for you.
If you are at all concerned about potential liability in a SEC investigation, you should speak with an attorney whose only interest is in defending your interests to determine whether an attorney is indeed necessary.
Work With an Oklahoma SEC Enforcement Defense Lawyer
Oklahoma City defense attorney Patrick Quillian represents individuals facing white collar investigations and prosecutions, including those who are the subject of SEC investigations. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405-896-9768 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and determine the best steps to protect your interests.