The services performed by EBBEN Partners - leading to a clear recommendation or report of findings - are based on four areas of expertise. For our assignments we put in a combination of our expertise: accounting, legal profession, integrity, and security.
One expertise that has not been mentioned, but in our world may best be shown, is the ability to write a clear report. A report that can be properly read by outsiders, judges and related persons. And if a professional opinion or a review is requested, we give it gladly.
Our services are based on our expertise, but are also based upon confidence and a 'click' with the client.
The partners at EBBEN Partners - without obligation – would gladly have an introductory interview to establish whether the expertise of EBBEN Partners can be efficiently used, what the costs will be, and whether there is, or might be, that certain 'click'.
Special investigations often are difficult to place in a certain category. Because of the areas of expertise available within EBBEN Partners, we can assemble a multidisciplinary team of experienced investigators to fit the needs of the investigation.
Governance Risk & compliance
To prevent is better than to cure'. Consultants at Ebben Partners assess the structure of your organization and provide you with recommendations to ensure that you are in control.
An investigation into a possible breach of internal procedures, code of conduct or governance guidelines must be done carefully: independent, honest, competent and objective. That means a good description of the assignment, interviews performed with those involved with an eye on the situation and relations, an examination of the documentation, and the careful application of adversarial, if necessary.
Someone in position of power that grants favors not in the interest of the organization, in exchange for personal services or a kickback. Bribes are still being sought and given. Procedures are sometimes not respected, integrity codes and inaugural oaths are being transgressed. The specialists of EBBEN Partners investigate and report on this.
A research for a proposed merger or acquisition is an important aspect to substantiate the valuation or assess risks. In particular, the expertise of EBBEN Partners in the area of integrity can bring added value: do the same values apply within the organization to be taken over? Could integrity skeletons possibly fall out of the closet?
Factual investigations can be very diverse in nature. Consider the monitoring of specific transactions in financial statements, examining of money laundering, an investigation into the integrity of your data or an inquiry into the respect of contracts and legislation.
When there is a suspicion of fraud or fraud has been detected, you want to have a clear picture of the scale as soon as possible to limit the damage. Suspected persons should be held liable and confidence needs to be restored. The persons employed at EBBEN Partners have been the founding fathers of the forensic audit in Belgium and the Netherlands. The lawyers have extensive experience in fraud investigations and brainstorm on the best strategy for the start of proceedings. Is it important to let the investigation take place under the protection of the legal privilege of the lawyer? You've come to the right place.
For the smaller-scale organizations, EBBEN Partners can fulfill the internal audit function - fully or partly - externally. EBBEN Partners can do this by reviewing the (desired) audit organization, setting up audits, arranging the audits, actually performing audits, training auditors, and for the purpose of the management and / or regulators, evaluating the results of an audit, the audit plan or the performance of auditors.
An audit that focuses on the quality of the management of all aspects of business: operational affairs. This goes beyond the aspects of reliability and validity. Often there is a relation to the objectives of an organization (strategy). The audit team will often be aggregated in a multi-disciplinary manner. This multidisciplinary character gives a significantly broader scope of research, often with interesting observations.
If the team, operating as a temporary project team, is made up of people from different departments and levels of the organization, this can be an instructive exercise for the participants. But that requires attention to planning and coordination: to ensure that everyone fills out the role that is expected of him or her. EBBEN Partners may be part of an existing operational audit team, but is also able to independently set-up, to prepare and to carry-out investigations, including the reporting to the management.
The participation of an external expert is an informal and accessible tool to provide feedback on the functioning of the supervisory board. During the regular board meetings, one of the EBBEN Partners gets a guest seat at the table. He thinks conceptually with a fresh, contemporary and critical outlook. He prepares for the board meetings, gets familiar with the agendas and minutes of the meetings of the past few years. As a guest, he comprehends the technique and dynamics of the meeting, by means of a “live perception”. Following the meeting, he provides comments on his perception of the agenda-making, the board’s interpretation of the concept “supervision” regarding the manner in which meetings are set up, how collaboration is realized between directors, and the role of members as well as the chairman. As such, the EBBEN Partner aims to use the EBBEN knowledge and experience in the world of real estate, housing associations, partnerships, consulting firms and various corporations & industries.
In an organization where employees work and collaborate with integrity, there are less incidents regarding integrity and employees collaborate with more pleasure than in an organization where integrity is less important. Even if merely through the fact that employees feel safe and do not get bullied. Employees are more loyal and this results in better statistics on staff turnover.
It all starts by asking an association their understanding of the concept of integrity and whether there is a comprehensive and uneqivocal insight of what the concept entails within the supervisory board and board of directors. (Read the book I'm Honest, You are Honest, written by one of the EBBEN Partners together with a journalist from FD. With, currently shocking conclusions!]
Next, EBBEN Partners perform an audit of the existing measures aimed at protecting integrity and improvement in the organization. The results are shared with the client and EBBEN Partners engage to develop an integrity policy. The Plan is to be shared at the top but also on the workfloor, at every layer of the organization. As quoted from the previously mentioned book, by Anthony Burgman: "Lack of integrity at the top of the organization is life-threatening to a company. Absence can be deadly, presence a blessing. " After implementation of our recommendations in this area, our clients are more in-control.
How do directors and internal supervisors know that the information reported to them is accurate and complete? Are delegated tasks and powers according to agreements and Segregation of Duties? Are the outlined or approved policies effective? Are risky reorganization projects and system implementation undertakings fully reported? Capable controllers, reliable financial reporting and 'in control statements’ established via protocol, often provide inadequate answers to these questions. Internal audit, in this context, is an excellent and successful tool. However, often only large organizations have sufficient mass to capacitate setting this up successfully themselves, hire quality human resources, and organize, carry out and evaluate professionaly. This is where EBBEN Partners can support your organization.
Governance is about the management and supervision of organizations.
How is Segregation of Duties arranged? How is integrity managed? What are the company’s values ? What is the organization’s view on leadership and culture ? This Governance area typically needs combination of managerial experience, legal expertise and expertise in the field of integrity.
Every company deals with risks. These risks may be strategic, operational or financial. With projects in the field of risk management, the challenge is to preserve the link with the business. Risk management can never be an end in itself, but must always add value by serving the interests of the organization. EBBEN Partners utilizes a proven method in which the connection is formed with the organizational objectives in a practical way. Within the strategic and operational reality, this method offers the possibility to make a translation into secondary objectives regarding the areas of integrity, security and legal control. This approach turns risk management from an expense into an investment that contributes to the business objectives. The business case remains central, while taking into account, among other things, the feasibility, cost-benefit considerations and priorities which then integrate seamlessly within the organization.
EBBEN Forensic Technology
90% of all the data that exists worldwide has been produced over the past two years. This exponential growth is expected to continue. In organizations, a large part of the information relating to communication, invoicing, project management, production and commercial activities is fixed in the digital domain. Part of it takes place in a structured environment, such as in the financial system or ERP system. An important part, however, also takes place in applications that store the data in a less structured manner, such as (email) correspondence or documentation systems. In daily practice, this abundance of data is a risk for many organizations. The grip on the processes can disappear and due to the increasing amounts of - dynamic - data, it is more difficult to stay 'in control' on privacy aspects, information security and fraud risks.
In addition to these risks, these developments also offer the necessary opportunities. Because the actions of users of an automated system leave more and more digital traces, there are also more and more opportunities to use the data within the company in a positive way. EBBEN Forensic Technology offers a number of solutions that are tailored to this.
EBBEN offers an e-Discovery solution for making research and keeping research manageable in the growing volume, particularly unstructured data. In this area we work together with technology partner Zylab , a renowned party that guarantees the continuous development and robust operation of the technology. EBBEN adds specific knowledge in the field of fraud, risk management, (data) governance and compliance, combined with extensive experience with the implementation and integrated application of e-discovery technology.
EBBEN Discovery © offers the possibility to efficiently search a large amount of data, filter, recognize patterns and visualize the results in an insightful way. This technology can make an important contribution to special investigations, but also as a data room for an M & A project, or for example for an audit on compliance aspects. EBBEN uses this technology in projects for clients, but also helps with the implementation of organizations that want to have access to this technology. Data can be processed efficiently and safely and managed in a controlled manner, from the beginning of the cycle (identification and collection) to the end (destruction).
EBBEN FRAUD ANALYTICS
An important toolset in providing insight into structured data in particular - for example in ERP systems or administrative environments - is data analysis. In the services of EBBEN, the focus for an important part is on what we call 'fraud analytics'. This is a technique that can help trace fraudulent transactions or other irregularities. It starts by identifying the (digital) locations in the organization where relevant data are located. Experience shows that in the form of, for example, traffic data, logging, metadata, system data and databases, much more relevant data is often available than that which one would initially think. The second step is to identify the specific fraud risks for the organization and to link patterns in the data flow that can be related to them. Through analytical techniques, data mining, recognizing anomalies and visualization methods, insight can be gained into irregularities, fraud risks, notable exceptions and patterns that deserve further attention.
Data analysis and fraud analytics do not replace conventional controls and research methods, but add a number of important characteristics.Firstly, it becomes possible to break through the silo knowledge that still exists in many organizations. Data from different departments or processes can be combined and can thus provide new insights. A second point is the objectification of the efforts. If data analysis is used in a good way, an efficient and well-considered choice can be made for the targeted deployment of manpower. And last but not least, the developments in the field of data analysis and fraud analytics are going fast. Based on experience, systems themselves can learn to recognize patterns under the surface that are missed by conventional detection methods. In short: Fraud analytics is the future.
EBBEN DIGITAL FORENSICS
Searching for traces and evidence in an automated environment sometimes requires more than analysis or discovery of the readily available data. Many questions that relate to a user's actions on a computer can be answered using forensic techniques. One can then think of recovering and clearing back deleted files, analyzing a timeline of events on a system or, for example, linking the leaking of sensitive information to a specific user of the system.
EBBEN has the power to secure, make insight and analyze data in a forensically sound manner in environments of all sizes and complexity. We have the knowledge and experience to support our customers by following the correct procedures and evidence, which has been developed in such a way that, if necessary, it can withstand the test of criticism in court.
EBBEN OPEN SOURCE INTELLIGENCE
With the growing amount of data on the internet, the possibilities for gathering information for different purposes also increase. This may be for performing a screening or due diligence investigation. But also information that is used in strategic analyzes or factual investigations.
Only a small part of the information can be found via Google or other search engines. With this, a fraction of the information on the internet is searched. Under water there is a sea of information in databases, and other - not directly accessible - sources, with which the difference can be made. EBBEN has the knowledge and tools to use this search power for our clients.
In many ways EBBEN Partners can provide legal support and assist in dispute resolution. Are you looking for a legal advisor, mediator or just a professional who examines or builds foundations for you?
Mediation is an efficient form of dispute resolution by and for parties that attach importance to a sustainable partnership. Under the guidance of a mediator, the parties search for an acceptable solution for all parties involved. This is often less drastic than a step towards the judge and is usually concluded within a number of weeks or, at most, a few months. The mediator is merely the facilitator in this situation, and with the thought that ‘client knows best’, does not propose any solutions himself.
Participation in mediation is voluntary, however, it is not without obligation. Parties need to be willing to work together to find a solution. Anyone present at the mediation must handle the content of the negotiations with confidentiality. The arrangements will then be put on paper in an agreement.
EBBEN Partners has various fields of specialization, such as the construction and real estate sector.
Asset tracing & debt collection
EBBEN is the specialist in complex business debt collection and asset tracing. EBBEN performs both nationally and internationally in direct debits and trade disputes. We identify assets and take the necessary action to collect your claims or assist you in resolving business conflicts.
Organizations are sometimes confronted with problems that require the support of an experienced specialist. A party that stands next to you and that can offer the clout in difficult business situations, such as the absence of payments after a delivery or transaction. Both in and out of court, we assist our clients in analyzing their debt collection position and strengthening it where necessary.
A party can have it right by its side - and often even won it in court - but then it is still difficult to actually turn this into success. The collection of claims or obligations and finding the possibilities for redress is often not easy. Which assets are relevant for the story? Where are these located? Which legal bumps can stand in the way of redress? It is just a selection of the questions that we can answer for you.
EBBEN combines a unique mix of knowledge and expertise that we can use in consultancy and research assignments in the area of Governance, Risk & Compliance, with a specialization in fraud and integrity. Asset tracing & collection is a division of EBBEN that specializes in dispute settlement, complex business debt collection and asset tracing. In addition to a solid legal basis in the areas of collection, attachment and business disputes, EBBEN has expertise in (forensic) accountancy, damage calculations and open source intelligence (OSINT). EBBEN also has a license as a private detective agency.
EBBEN has offices in Brussels and Hilversum. The partners of EBBEN, each with decades of experience, have access to a strong international network, so that we can act for our clients all over the world.
Whether it concerns a customer who does not pay his invoice, a (former) relationship who refuses to compensate for damage, a conflict in the takeover or sale of a company (part), or a director or employee who is guilty of fraud, EBBEN has knowledge, tools and techniques to do research, gather information and intelligence, and - if necessary - to act efficiently and decisively with debt collection measures.
In order to be able to operate as efficiently and efficiently as possible, EBBEN uses a phase-based approach. In this way we prevent high costs from being incurred before there is an idea about whether an approach has a chance of success.
Phase 1: Problem analysis
In the first phase, all available information about the organization (s) and / or individuals and the claims or the conflict is collected. In this phase the following questions are central:
- Which parties are involved and which interests or motives do they have?
- Which (business) relationships exist between the parties?
- What is the background and nature of the claim or the conflict and what assessment can we make about the legal feasibility?
- What information exists in advance about redress and seizure options, jurisdictions and property relations?
After completing this phase - which we perform for a fixed amount - we issue an advice, in which we describe the options of our client, including our estimate of success and a plan of action with budget. This budget often consists of a fixed component and a variable part, depending on success.
Phase 2: Research and legal preparation
In the second phase of the asset tracing research, research is carried out and the legal possibilities are explored and put into practice. The following questions are answered at this stage:
- Which assets do the counterparties have, how are they financed, what is the status of these assets and where are they located?
- Are the identified assets free of attachments or other claims from third parties?
- Is there legal constructions that may stand in the way of the tracing and winning out of the assets?
- Which additional research is necessary to reinforce the dispute or collection? Think of a damage calculation or a forensic case study.
- Which legal instruments can be used to effect the claim and collection? If necessary for safeguarding the interests, conservative attachment is made, or funds and assets are 'frozen' in another way.
At the end of this phase, everything is ready to implement the legal strategy and tactics.
Phase 3: Execution and collection
If the relevant assets have been identified and the legal measures have been put in place, it is important to proceed as quickly as possible with collecting the claim or reclaiming the assets. This can be done both inside and outside.
We make optimal use of our knowledge and experience for the extrajudicial collection of claims. EBBEN, together with her client, determines the approach of the collection and other procedures. It is possible to follow a hard line, putting maximum pressure on the debtor. On the other hand, we regularly note that a client, despite a business dispute or an unpaid claim, wants to keep the relationship with the counterparty. Through negotiation, mediation and the conclusion of a settlement (settlement agreement) we come to a satisfactory solution for you. We then assist you with fulfilling the agreements made.
If the out-of-court funds turn out to be fruitless, we can also take the route of the judicial collection by laying herds, starting legal proceedings, executing judgments and legally dealing with people who hide behind corporate structures. Whether you choose the hard road or the soft road, EBBEN makes the difference between being right and being right.
Acting as a court expert
Due to its independent position, EBBEN Partners is often asked to act a court expert. Below are some examples of investigation topics that are often presented to the experts at EBBEN Partners:
- Compliance with accounting law;
- Asset valuation in partition of estates;
- Economic analysis and investigation of damage claims;
- Investigation into the accuracy and completeness of commission fees;
- Investigation into the actions or omissions of management and directors in correspondence to liability procedures;
- Assessment of the work undertaken by statutory auditors.
Though a final product can be put together in the form of a report that explains our findings, it is also possible that we "only" serve as a sounding board, or verbally provide our advice.
Acting as arbitrator
EBBEN Partners can be appointed as arbitrator (legally binding) in litigation. The parties involved in the dispute are hereby jointly the client of EBBEN Partners. The dispute will get discussed, after which the cases to be investigated will be determined and recorded. The parties will be heard separately. EBBEN Partners will present the findings in a draft report to which the parties can then respond. In this manner we handle with due care which is of extreme importance in these kinds of investigations.
Support from liquidators (receivers)
In case of (complex) financial issues in bankruptcy filings EBBEN Partners can provide support to liquidators (receivers). EBBEN Partners can support the liquidator as though he were the liquidator's assistant. Targeted surveys or quick scans can be used to identify whether additional investigative procedures would be of use. In the event that arrangements of this kind have been made, EBBEN Partners will report the findings in the form of - confidential - case notes.
Second Opinion and Contra-Expertise
Sometimes with important decisions, you may feel the need for a second opinion, or you may perhaps doubt the reports of an expert. In such cases EBBEN Partners can provide the required comfort. With a combination of areas of expertise, EBBEN Partners is able to evaluate your problem and to critically analyze and comment upon reports from other experts. Particularly in complex cases, an experienced advisor earns fees back when he can successfully challenge methodologies applied and assumptions made by other experts