- Purpose. To encourage collaboration between ROs(1) and provide guidance on conducting these joint investigations of employee benefit plans and service providers. Increasing collaboration among ROs can lead to:
- More efficient use of investigative talent and expertise;
- Increased consistency in applying enforcement policies;
- A better understanding of issues and trends affecting the regulated community on a national basis
- Case Characteristics. Cross-regional civil or criminal investigations are appropriate for one or more of the following:
- Large plans (i.e. plan asset or participant size);
- Service providers to multiple plan clients;
- Complex or systemic issues;
- Ways to Collaborate. ROs can collaborate on cross-regional investigations by:
- Introducing investigations for consideration;
- Opening an Office 99, if appropriate;
- Leading an investigation involving another RO or OE staff;
- Participating in an investigation by providing investigative expertise or conducting a parallel investigation(2)
- Investigative Assistance/Auxiliary Investigations(3). When there is only the need for limited investigative activity on a case outside the geographic jurisdiction of the primary RO, the primary RO may:
- Request the RO having jurisdiction over this area (auxiliary office) to perform the work;
- Notify the auxiliary RO prior to conducting the work
Appropriate examples of auxiliary investigations include:
- Issuance of an in-person subpoena requiring immediate production
- Conducting routine interviews
- Participating in search and seizures
Investigator/Auditors should charge time expended in auxiliary investigations to the primary RO’s case.
- Cross Regional investigations can also include the OE staff.
- The “lead region” designation is normally to be given to the RO that developed the investigation to the point of receiving cross-jurisdictional consideration. However, other factors to consider include expertise needed to complete the investigation in an efficient and effective manner.
- Auxiliary investigations do not meet the criteria for cross-regional investigations.