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How to Conduct International Due Diligence

Posted On   date25/06/2014

How to Conduct International Due Diligence

Picture this: Your business is growing. You need new investors and maybe even a business partner. You can’t keep up with the constant demand and your company is no longer just a side interest — it’s the real deal.  But, you’ll need to look internationally for these new contacts given your situation.

So you begin the search to find the right people to help your business grow. As luck would have it, the perfect person or people walk into your path – so now what? You decide it would be wise to do an international background check to make sure your new business partner is truly as perfect as he or she says. A basic check comes back clear but is that all you need?  A lot of money and your reputation is at stake.

What is international due diligence?

Due diligence is not just a fancy phrase. For businesses, it should be a way of life. For every single new deal, companies must do their due diligence to absolutely be sure they have their assets protected. By joining forces with an unknown source, you put your entire business at risk. Know every fact. Check under every stone. Sign your contracts with informed consent.  Doing business at fraud can ruin you.

Hopefully, a few contracts in, this will become second nature and be a less painful process but if this is your first time, hiring a professional is the way to go. Due diligence can help your small business grow. This isn’t the time to skimp or try to be frugal and try a do-it-yourself project. If you miss something, especially internationally, you could compromise your entire life’s work.  Professional due diligence services can verify a company’s legal registration and filings, check assets and reputation, verify cash flow, check criminal and court records, check for litigation, verify operations and services offered, investigate and verify the owners, verify and photograph offices and factories, screen the case for fraud, and more.

Helpful tips when considering your options

Each situation, company, case and country is different.  Contact a reputation international investigation company who has investigators in the country our countries where you need them.  If you are considering doing business with a company in China or India, the investigation firm better have trained investigators in those countries, for example.  Don’t be fooled into spending thousands of dollars for someone to search the internet and make phone calls. Boots on the ground are essential.

Check the investigator’s websites for professional trust seals, such as McAfee, Truste, Verisign and the Better Business Bureau.  Such trust seals let the consumers know that the website is a real company and has taken steps to protect your privacy and your sensitive data.

Ask the investigation company for a detailed quote, given your specific situation.  If the email doesn’t answer all your questions, request a phone call.  Check the company’s website for an appropriate contact us page with a physical address and phone number.  Search the web for references.

You’ll need to be sure that your due diligence is in fact comprehensive enough. There aren’t any exact rules for how much investigating needs to be done before determining that your due diligence has in fact been completed. Still, be aware of a few common mistakes made during due diligence including not acting on gut feelings or ignoring red flags.  If you feel that something may not be right, or you have a feeling that you are being pressured into something, stop and contact an investigator for advice.

Don’t be foolish enough to think a domestic background check is enough. Living abroad, working abroad, and traveling abroad are a part of everyday life now. Even if your new business partner was born and raised in West Virginia, a basic domestic background check won’t reveal that time he studied abroad in college and made questionable decisions while living in Malaysia.  International is serious business, and there are no magic databases you can access in developing countries.  You’ll need real investigation, and real evidence.

When researching companies that offer due diligence services, be sure to look for a few key factors. Make sure they have investigators in all parts of the world. Be sure they are compliant with any laws or general rules of conduct when doing their work. Pay them securely for their services and have everything in writing, especially stating the confidentiality of what transpires. You do not have to reveal to your new partner that he was investigated first. If he is smart, you are being investigated as well.

Background checks versus due diligence

Know the difference between an international background check investigation and an international due diligence.  Think of due diligence as a more in depth investigation with more details and evidence.  For many clients, an international background check is the best starting point.  Consult a professional private investigator to determine what investigation is right for you, given your situation.

When all is said and done, you will be glad you took the time to enter into your new partnership with a clean slate. You can now look forward to the potential of business growth and increased profits.  Hire the right international investigation company to assist you so you are sure to find the answers to all of your questions. And especially don’t mourn the loss of a potential partner if the investigation turns up something you cannot work with. After all, that’s why you conducted the check in the first place. Finding out unpleasant details upfront will save you a lot of time – and financial hardship – in the long run.

C. Wright
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