Our check list: what to do if the public prosecutor appears at your door


Dawn raids on your company require swift action. Our check list provides an initial overview so that you are prepared for an emergency.

If a public authority, such as the public prosecutor's office, the competition authority or the tax fraud investigation office, appears at your door to investigate suspicious circumstances, you may hear the following or something similar:

“Good morning, I'm Joe Bloggs from the XXX public prosecutor's office. We have reason to believe that your company is involved in extensive corruption and money laundering which is why we are now going to conduct an inspection of your company.”

A dawn raid often catches a company off guard. Being unprepared may have a detrimental effect on further events. Too much cooperation may result in the investigation being extended. Refusing to cooperate may increase the severity of the penalty and at worst may lead to further sanctions.

A dawn raid requires a good deal of preparation

It is absolutely vital that you are well-prepared for a dawn raid and able to act fast.

Are you prepared for a dawn raid? Are you aware of the legal framework? Have you drawn up contingency plans and are you able to answer questions on the infrastructure at your company?

Those responsible at your company should ask themselves these questions and others at regular intervals. You should draw up contingency plans and communicate with those areas of your company which are affected. This is the only way to be well-prepared for a dawn raid. The best thing is to stage a mock dawn raid with your team.

Check list: preparing for a real dawn raid

The Compliance & Forensic Services Team at CMS Germany has drawn up a “check list for dawn raids”, based on experiences made when providing assistance with dawn raids.

This check list is divided into four sets of questions containing all the relevant issues compa-nies have to address when they are under suspicion:

  1. Contingency plans: asks whether any contingency plans have been drawn up, asks about internal distribution and regular updates.
  2. Management, staff, lawyers: asks about internal (main) contacts for communication and external support.
  3. Archiving documents, IT: asks about IT infrastructure and guidelines at your company.
  4. Technical facilities, capacities: asks about sufficient internal resources for seamless as-sistance during a dawn raid.

Our team hopes that this check list will provide further assistance and encourage discussion on this important topic at your company. Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries or require further information.

1. Contingency plans

  • Have any contingency plans been drawn up for reception, the management, IT or other departments?
  • Have the contingency plans been well-distributed throughout the company and are they accessible at all times? Have you appointed representatives and are contact persons easy to contact?
  • Have the contingency plans been discussed internally and have staff had sufficient training on how to react?
  • Are the contingency plans updated on a regular basis? Any contingency plans containing outdated telephone numbers should be put through the shredder!
  • Do you regularly update the contact data of any external consultants to be called in?

2. Management, staff, lawyers

  • Can the bodies/staff authorised to represent the company be reached at any time?
  • Have staff responsibilities been clearly defined and is there a representation policy?
  • Are company spokespersons/PR department prepared for an emergency? Have you got a response strategy?
  • Have your lawyers been instructed in advance, are they able to provide assistance quickly and do they have adequate capacity? Can current telephone numbers be easily located, e.g. in a contingency plan?
  • Has there been any consultation with external advisors who are to be contacted in the event of an emergency?

3. Archiving documents, IT

  • In which form, where and how long are business documents archived and/or stored?
  • Is IT sufficiently prepared for a dawn raid? In particular: have topics been separately stored on different servers/hard disks so that a “total raid” can be avoided?
  • Have you got a redundant system or any other solution which ensures work can be continued if the authorities access your server and the data stored on your server?

4. Technical facilities, capacities

  • Have you got a separate room which can be used by officials during a dawn raid?
  • Have you got sufficient photocopiers and paper at hand plus staff instructed to photocopy documents before they are seized?
  • Have you got any emergency telephone and/or emergency email system if telephones and/or IT breaks down (or is switched off by the investigation authorities) and communication by mobile phone is blocked?

The check list for dawn raids may also be downloaded as a PDF file.