How did they do it?
- Implemented Collect in RelativityOne to remotely collect client data in an international investigation.
- Reduced collection workloads by eliminating travel and expensive secure shipping to obtain physical storage devices.
- Translated 1500 documents and financial records in a data population size of 300,000 from Arabic to English in minutes, saving 300+ hours.
- Decoded unknown aliases and identified files from other individuals who were potentially involved.
Mazars: An International, Integrated Partnership
Founded in Europe and headquartered in Paris, Mazars is a leading international audit, tax, and advisory firm with over 47,000 specialists across 95+ countries and territories delivering tailored services in audit and accounting, as well as tax, financial advisory, consulting, and legal services. Mazars is dedicated to helping clients make the most of business opportunities and operate with confidence.
In the summer of 2023, Mazars was engaged by an energy provider in the Middle East to investigate allegations of potential bribery. The firm relied on two key features in RelativityOne—Collect and Translate—to complete the investigation within the tight deadline.
The Headache of Manual Collection
Historically, Mazars’ data collection process involved liaison between their technology & digital team and their clients’ IT departments to facilitate data transfers. In cases where clients did not have their own IT departments, Mazars invested time and resources into training client staff to extract necessary data. Occasionally, Mazars also had to collect data from physical storage devices—which meant either incurring expensive shipping fees or losing a day of investigation time for travel to the client’s premises.
Once data was collected, clients would then have to upload their files to a shared workspace often with a restrictive maximum upload size as small as 20GB—which required Mazars to spend even more time training the client to be able to split files where necessary.
In 2022, Mazars adopted RelativityOne and received training on Collect. They immediately noted the product’s simplicity and the potential for streamlining the collection process, particularly for international clients where the transfer of physical devices or shipping was less feasible or secure. Collect in RelativityOne was the beginning of a robust and singular collection solution.
“We were excited upon being introduced to Collect in RelativityOne, recognising it would provide the means to transverse many of the issues we encounter,” said Rhys Lewis, Assistant Manager at Mazars.
Defensible and Targeted Cloud Collection
Due to the ease of setting up Collect, Mazars was able to begin using the tool almost immediately. They first utilised Collect within a large bribery investigation in the Middle East.
With the help of in-house Microsoft Azure experts, Mazars configured the client’s data sources. From there, the remote collection process was in motion, with no further input needed from Mazars or the client, freeing up valuable time.
Collect in RelativityOne provided Mazars with access to client data much quicker, whilst remaining compliant with data protection laws in both the UK and client jurisdiction, which was important for their time sensitive bribery investigation. Additionally, Collect eliminated the need for Mazars to travel to the client jurisdiction or use secure shipping. For the client, the reduced workload and automated collection process allowed their IT personnel to stay as hands-off as possible and instead focus on their more strategic work duties.
The ability to action a remote collection process on a global scale opens new doors for Mazars, increasing their reach internationally and allowing them to control these crucial processes more efficiently.
“Collect has streamlined the collection process for all parties involved in our investigations and will make a real difference for us going forward,” Rhys said.
“We have already reaped the benefits of Collect, having completed a large cross-border collection remotely with minimal client involvement. Collect has streamlined this process for all parties involved in our investigations and will make a real difference for us going forward.”
RHYS LEWIS, Assistant Manager
Troubleshooting Translation Roadblocks
Because Mazars is an international integrated partnership, their teams around the world have access to colleagues in other countries and jurisdictions, as well as international employees in local offices. For most translation needs, Mazars has a wealth of resources to assist in different languages.
However, translate constraints in the past have been time and cost. While translators can make themselves available, accurate translation takes time, particularly for documents with multiple pages, which lead to incurring additional costs for their firm. Additionally, most translated output Mazars has received has been text-only due to the high costs associated with preserving the native format and a lack of a business case to do so.
In this investigation, the Mazars team had more than 300,000 documents to digest, many of which were in Arabic and contained Arabic names. Translation by hand was simply not an option. It was this investigation that prompted Mazars to turn to Translate in RelativityOne to translate documents quickly and securely in their native format.
Saving Time & Money with Automated Translations
The Mazars team initially determined criteria to help cull the 300,000 documents to a more manageable and relevant set. Next, the team identified keywords including names and aliases, to be translated into Arabic using an Arabic speaker in their UAE office.
The Arabic criteria identified over 1,500 documents in Arabic potentially relevant to the investigation. RelativityOne translated those documents and had them ready for review in a matter of minutes.
A full-page document would ordinarily take between 10 and 20 minutes to translate, depending on whether any formatting needed to be copied or preserved for the final version. By using Translate, Mazars saved more than 300 hours of time and cost. This allowed them to begin review almost immediately, resulting in a more time and cost-efficient investigation for the client.
In addition, Translate was able to effectively preserve document formatting. With many documents in the population being invoices and financial records, this was important as it did not degrade the interpretability of the documents when reviewed in translated English.
Translate was actionable in very few clicks and documents were ready for review in minutes. Early on in the process, Mazars sampled a few documents, comparing the Translate in RelativityOne output to the translations performed by an Arabic speaker in their London office. The output was near identical and in the few cases where individual words were different, the context of the sentence was fully preserved, meaning Mazars could trust the output for the purpose of their investigation.
Decoding Aliases Hidden Deep in Data
This was an international bribery investigation that started from allegations with no other evidence offered by the whistleblowers. A few names were provided in the initial disclosure, but the phonetic nature of the Arabic language meant that the English spelling of names varied from person to person or may have been different to names contained in the client data files.
Upon ingesting client data, Translate in RelativityOne automatically created entities, within which aliases with different spellings were grouped. This provided Mazars with a list of different email addresses and name spellings that the platform had determined may relate to the same person.
From this, Mazars was able to expand their client data pool to include files from other individuals potentially involved. Mazars was also able to refine search criteria to include names and contact details associated with the grouped aliases identified, which was key both in narrowing the pool of individuals involved in the allegations, and in ensuring Mazars didn’t miss potentially critical evidence files that included alternate spellings.
“RelativityOne was key for us in tackling this investigation in good time for our client,” said Nigel Layton, partner & UK Head of Investigations at Mazars. “The platform provided us with a central space for multiple Mazars teams and advisors to collaborate around the world, facilitating an efficient triage and discovery process across multiple languages and legal jurisdictions.”
“Without Translate, the case would have required extensive additional review time.”
NIGEL LAYTON, Partner & UK Head of Investigations