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Few fraud cases have garnered as much attention in the last decade as the Theranos scandal. The spectacular rise and fall of the biotech startup and its founder Elizabeth Holmes have already inspired a documentary and a best-selling book, while a Hollywood film starring Jennifer Lawrence is in the making. And now, as Holmes’ criminal fraud trial is underway, it looks like the Theranos saga might be drawing to an end.

So, what made the case such a headline grabber and where did it all begin? And more importantly — what lessons can we learn from it to avoid such a massive waste of resources in the future?

 

With the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounding a “code red” alarm on the future of humanity, the topic of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is more current than ever.

Various surveys have demonstrated that consumers want companies to incorporate ESG practices and studies link higher ESG scores with lower cost of capital. Investors are also hopping on the train, as shareholder resolutions pushing for increased ESG efforts reached a record high in 2021. What’s more, the COVID pandemic has accelerated ESG adoption as global conglomerates, such as Carrier, start linking their ESG goals to executive compensation packages. All in all, a commitment to ESG appears to be a no-brainer for any company looking to improve its image and sales.

 

Data science has reshaped many industries in the last two decades. But it has notably entered the government sector too, as regulators increasingly rely on analytical tools to uncover and prosecute violators.

One agency that seems to be at the forefront of data science adoption is the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The regulator has been using analytics to combat insider trading for some years now. A recent example is a charge against three former Netflix engineers, which the SEC detected using its data analysis tools that pick out “improbably successful trading over time.”

 

Breaking into new markets and winning major government contracts can be a daunting task for even the largest corporations, doubly so in emerging markets that are in political transition or have gone through a recent major upheaval.

In the face of such challenges, some companies may decide that engaging in illegal activities, often taking the form of bribes to foreign government officials, is an acceptable cost of doing business. When caught, hefty fines and settlements serve as both punishment for and deterrent against corruption practices.

But even before sanctions are levied, an investigation or ongoing lawsuit will raise red flags in any thorough due diligence check. In the most egregious cases, allegations of bribery can haunt a company's reputation for decades.

 

In 2020, a list of over 50,000 phone numbers was leaked to Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories, a nonprofit media organization based in Paris, France. The numbers are believed to belong to individuals identified as "people of interest" by clients of the Israeli cyber defense firm NSO Group. The leak set off a worldwide investigative journalism initiative – the Pegasus Project.  

 

Public funds reportedly spent on items such as luxury yachts, private jets, and a diamond-encrusted glove worn by Michael Jackson prompted the UK Foreign Office to impose new sanctions.

Last Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced new sanctions aimed at five high-ranking officials and businessmen in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Iraq.

The news comes amid a broader push by Britain to become a major player on the global sanctions front. In April, the country announced the first asset freezes and travel bans under its new ​​Global Anti-Corruption regime, targeting 22 individuals from places such as Russia, South Africa, and Latin America.

CINCINNATI, Jan. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kreller Group today announced its acquisition of Smith Brandon International, Inc. (SBI), a corporate investigations and risk consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. SBI will now be known as Smith Brandon International, a Kreller Company. The SBI entire SBI team is staying on, and SBI will continue to operate out of its Washington, DC office.

Two years ago, we wrote about the murder of Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, known for her work on Maltese corruption. While three men suspected of planting the car bomb that killed her were arrested shortly after her death in 2017, until recently little progress had been made regarding the identity of the person or persons who hired them.

That changed in late November 2019, when police raided the yacht of one of Malta’s wealthiest businessman, former Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech, based on information furnished by a self-confessed middleman, Melvin Theuma. Theuma, who has been promised immunity if his information is corroborated, has identified Fenech as the mastermind of the plot to kill Caruna Galizia in an attempt to prevent the publication of information about Fenech’s uncle, Tumas Group Chairman Raymond Fenech. Theuma has also testified that he arranged for payments from Fenech to the contract killers.

We were recently made aware of a new twist on a common scam and want to be sure our readers are aware of it.

For the past several years business email compromise scams have been on the rise. These scams involve a scammer using research and social engineering, and often spoofed email addresses (where they look like they're sending from a different email address), to convince an employee of a company to initiate a wire transfer to the scammer. In many cases the scammers will try to impersonate the CEO or another authority in the business. They will then try to create a sense of urgency in the victim to hopefully make them act quickly without thinking too much. The FBI has been warning about the rise of these scams for some time.

A scandal pertaining to the theft of rare and precious kevazingo wood seized by Gabon officials has allegedly resulted in the termination of the Vice President of Gabon as well as the Forestry Minister. 

Earlier this year, Gabonese officials uncovered a smuggling operation and seized nearly 400 shipping containers of illegally harvested wood from the rare and protected kevazingo tree.  The kevazingo tree can take up to 500 years to reach its full size and thanks to environmental protection laws adopted in Gabon in 2018 it is illegal to export in its raw form.  Shortly after the shipping containers were seized, roughly 350 containers (with an estimated street value of US $250 million) went missing.  According to media, at least 200 containers of kevazingo wood have been recovered thus far.       

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