Evolving mastery of private investigation

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Venodevan says the term ‘street investigator’ is often synonymous with a field investigator. — Bernama photo

THE realm of private investigation, often glamourised in movies, is not just about mystery and intrigue. Beyond the cinematic allure, a private investigator’s role encompasses diverse responsibilities, involving the meticulous gathering of information and the pursuit of truth.

In an exclusive interview with Bernama, Datuk M Venodevan, affectionately known as ‘Dato Devan’, shared insights from his two-decade career as a private investigator.

Born in Taiping and now 44 years old, he embarked on this journey in 2000 while pursuing his university degree in Information Technology at Universiti Tenaga Nasional.

He described his early years as a one-man operation, where he engaged with clients, conducted field investigations, prepared comprehensive reports and delivered briefings.

“At the same time, I was training with retired investigators from different countries. I was lucky that my superiors 20 years ago believed in mentorship and guided a rookie like myself with no sting on knowledge.

“The term ‘street investigator’ is often synonymous with a field investigator. We operate in diverse locations, whether it involves tracking a specific individual, assuming undercover roles in warehouses or conducting static surveillance in undisclosed locations,” he said.

Running his own private investigation firm, Venodevan highlighted the essential skills of adaptability and the ability to work independently or as part of a team, emphasising the more extreme covert methodology of intelligence operations.

As the founder of Venovox (Vox), with the slogan ‘Solution Provider for Corporate Investigation and Beyond’, he underscored the pivotal role of networks and sources in ensuring the success and breadth of investigative reporting.

These sources, akin to ‘small birds’, could provide ‘invaluable whispers’ that would contribute to informed decision-making.

Meanwhile, he added that private investigation was often synonymous with detective work, encompassing a broad spectrum. While commonly associated with cases involving cheating spouses, he revealed that matrimonial investigations constituted less than five per cent of his professional focus.

His expertise was more in investigating corporate fraud and conducting due diligence.

He differentiated between simple cases, such as a one-day surveillance operation for matrimonial matters, and more complex investigations that captivated his team at Venovox —those involving undercover operations and tracing money trails globally, including in the realm of crypto-currencies.

Notably, their investigations would extend beyond traditional bank transactions, delving deeper into the dark web.

Beyond the cinematic allure, a private investigator’s role encompasses diverse responsibilities, involving the meticulous gathering of information. — Photo from pexels.com

Venodevan highlighted the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into their existing technology, citing the benefits of features like facial recognition with integrated geo-fencing tracking and algorithms to analyse the target’s movement patterns.

However, to conduct a successful operation, he believed in a hybrid system of old-school street investigations and technology.

In addressing the perception of private investigation as a male-dominated field, Venodevan emphasised the presence of successful female investigators in his agency.

Notably, Venovox chief executive officer (CEO), responsible for overseeing 33 in-house analysts, is a woman.

Discussing the operational approach, Venodevan talked about their commitment to following clients’ instructions and intervening if necessary to prevent unjust accusations against the subject under investigation.

He stressed the importance of factual reporting without embellishments, focusing on accuracy even in the face of inherent risks.

He said their team would always follow clients’ instructions to gather evidence, occasionally intervening to prevent a situation where the subject under investigation was innocent.

“The client’s intelligence can turn out to be inaccurate. We base our reports on factual information without embellishments.

“While risks are inherent, our training emphasises calculated approaches. Contrary to the sensational elements like bomb explosions and sports car chases seen in Hollywood spy movies, for us, such scenarios are just a routine part of a typical Tuesday,” he revealed.

Venovox is now present in five countries, namely Malaysia, Singapore, the USA, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), and Estonia. — Bernama