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Cherchez la femme

Ever had the feeling someone is watching you? You just might be right if you're a high-flier working in the City of London. Bosses are increasingly taking steps to ensure that employees intending to leave don't take valuable information, clients and colleagues with them.

A spokesman for Kroll Associates, who prefer to call themselves "consultants" rather than private detectives, detailed the main areas of business banks employ them to investigate. These include private banking ­ in particular how individuals who come to them with large sums of money to invest acquired it in the first place ­ pre-employment information and investigating those about to jump ship.

This last area is especially popular, now accounting for 10% to 20% of business.

The techniques employed by these agencies read like something from a spy thriller: "If the client deems it necessary, individuals will be placed under surveillance and constantly monitored," says Paul Carratu, head of Carratu International.

He is quick to point out that the reputable agencies never do anything illegal. "We won't bug domestic telephones, or break into houses. We do everything legally, as we pride ourselves on the information we gather being admissible in a court of law."

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