Category Archives: Culture

The dog that didn’t bark

In a departure from normal practice, I comment upon an event unreported, as far as I can tell, in The Wall Street Journal.  For me, some things transcend politics.

Maybe I missed it.  Or maybe The Wall Street Journal didn’t see fit to print the leaked transcripts of President Trump’s post-inauguration phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

What does it say that this story, blaring over the TV newswires, wasn’t printed?  Does it say something about some organizations placing the Nation’s security above their own circulation numbers?  Is that a control you can rely on?  Apparently not from everyone.

Even if the paper had or did print something on this, what does the leak of those transcripts say about information governance?  First, does the White House have adequate controls and culture in place?  Clearly not.  Maybe General Kelly can help with that.

But what about the person who signed an oath and nonetheless decided to leak these classified transcripts to the press, thinking little or nothing about the impact on future calls between world leaders?  What’s their understanding of duty?  Placing the Nation’s needs above those of party or self?

Hang ’em high.

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Filed under Access, Compliance, Controls, Culture, Duty, Employees, Governance, Government, Internal controls, Protect assets, Third parties

VW Compliance Executive Pleads Guilty

“Ex-VW Official Admits Role in Emissions Cheating,” The Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2017 B3. A former VW “compliance executive” charged with conspiracy to defraud the US, wire fraud, and Clean Air Act violations pleads guilty.  He admits he knew about the software used to mislead US environmental regulators.  Faces sentencing in criminal case in December.

Hiding information from the government is not a good thing.  What was the culture that allowed this to happen?  Did people feel a need to do this to compete?  Too many car companies have been caught up in such scandals to have it be random.

The shareholders have paid (and are continuing to pay) for the mistakes of the employees of the company.  Who else from the company is going to go to jail,  or lose his/her job?  VW is facing costs in just the US of more than $25 billion and investigations elsewhere.  Does the “compliance executive” know of others who also knew?  Might he offer up some names before December?  People who bought VWs are going to want to recover damages from someone.

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Filed under Accuracy, Analytics, Board, Compliance, Compliance, Controls, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Data quality, Directors, Duty, Employees, Governance, Information, Internal controls, Oversight, Oversight, Value

A study in corporate liability

You hire independent contractors to drive under your corporate banner, and pay you a portion of the fees they collect.  You buy cars  and lease them to the contractors to drive.  What could go wrong?  The cars catch on fire.

“Uber Knowingly Leased Unsafe Cars to Drivers,’ The Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2017 A1.  Apparently, the cars that were leased had been recalled, and not fixed.  Who knew what when?  Did Corporate in the US know before the fire?  Or is this the result of a business model or culture where working around rules is prized above complying with them?

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Filed under Board, Compliance, Compliance, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Duty, Employees, Governance, Oversight

Keeping it in the family

“Two Plead Guilty in Insys Cases,” The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2017 B3.  Insys Therapeutics had an unusual fentanyl problem: bribing doctors to prescribe it.  Two saleswomen took the plea.

Notable:  one of the women is married to the firm’s former CEO, who  was arrested on related charges in December, together with 5 other senior managers.

Does corruption normally run this deep?  Where is (or was) the board?

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Filed under Board, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance Verification, Controls, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Directors, Duty, Duty of Care, Employees, Governance, Internal controls, Management, Oversight, Oversight

Who checks the checkers?

Compliance with law and compliance with policy and procedure are relatively easy to establish.  But compliance with ethics?

“Journal Reporter Fired Over Ethics,” The Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2017 A2.  A foreign affairs reporter at The Wall Street Journal was fired for something related to “his dealings with an aviation tycoon whom he had cultivated as a source.”  Further details weren’t provided.  It may have been the offer from the tycoon of a share in one of his companies.  Perhaps he wasn’t totally honest with the paper about something (but we don’t know what, yet).  A violation of journalistic ethics?

All this may have been revealed following a hack of email or text messages, or both.

Seems a bit squishy without more details as to what were the ethics and what was the violation.  Were I a reporter for the paper, I’d be curious what the lines were and how were they crossed.  This perhaps goes beyond the common stricture of “Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.”

Were this a corporate exec or a governmental official, would we get more detail?  Who checks the checkers?

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Filed under Compliance, Controls, Culture, Duty, Employees, Governance, Internal controls, IT, Oversight, Security

Surgical precision

How do you deal with claims of sexual harassment?  Have two law firms conduct investigations and fire 20 people.  But will that be the end or the middle?

“Uber Fires Over 20 In Wake Of Probe,” The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2017 B1.  Over two hundred claims investigated and no action taken in 100 of them.

Were there supervisors who participated or condoned or who failed to notice or respond?  Were there reporting practices and policies in place?  If harassment was “accepted” in the Uber culture, who’s to blame?  HR?  The Board?  Management?  How long had this been going on?  How much will the shareholders have to pay?

A summary of one of the law firm reports is due out soon.

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Filed under Board, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance, Controls, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Duty, Employees, Governance, Internal controls, Management, Oversight, Oversight

Backlog

Travel-related backlog.

Executives do go to jail.  “Ex-VW Official to Stay in Jail,” The Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2017 B3.  The official was head of the environmental and engineering office.  VW had already pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the diesel emissions scandal.  So the company AND some executives are criminally charged!  Guess Sally Yates meant it.  At least for foreign companies.  But no directors have been sued.  Yet.

“FBI Holds Memos for Now,” The Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2017 A4.  Congress wants the memos that ex-Director Comey wrote, but the existence of the special counsel (also the ex-Director) and Congressional “inquiries” have muddied the waters.  Whose information is it, anyway?  And can’t we all look at them together?  Right after Mr. Comey testifies?  Interesting that the FBI can withhold non-privileged memos, whatever their weight may be.

Chairman doesn’t go to jail.  “Leader of Brazil’s JBS Steps Down,” The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2017 B1.  The bribing scandal in Brazil’s meat-packing industry removes the chairman and his brother from the Board (although the brother remains as CEO).  The chairman signed a plea bargain in exchange for criminal immunity.  Curious about the culture at the company after the plea deal.

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Filed under Board, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance, Controls, Corporation, Culture, Culture, Directors, Duty, Employees, Governance, Information, Internal controls, Investor relations, Management, Oversight, Oversight, Ownership