Get out of Jail Free

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Get out of Jail Free

One of your editors was speaking at the Offshore Investment Conference in San Juan Puerto Rico in November, and enjoyed a presentation by Howard Fisher. Part of his comments revolved around what he called “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards. The presentation was an overview of offshore financial fraudsters and some of the companies who have perpetrated financial frauds. The gist was that many owners or employees of a company who were dealing with very bad people – mob guys and drug dealers ‐‐ used records they had obtained through their workplace to trade for stuff. The stuff included their freedom when they traded it with prosecutors who were after them. It also included cash, as they sold financial records on tax cheats to governments where the tax cheats resided.

If you think this is stolen information – you’re right. The governments response to obtaining or buying stolen information is tuff stuffing (legal term of art). It comes under what Howard referred to as the silver platter doctrine. Whatever the origin of the information, as long as the government did not steal it ‐‐ it doesn’t matter. Just as John the Baptists head was delivered by Herodias to Salome, the information was delivered to the government on a silver platter.

So what is the warning on CI and OPSEC? Secure your information. Though you may not be engaged in multinational criminal acts, your information is, nonetheless, still valuable. It can be sold to a competitor overtly as information stolen, excuse me ‐ liberated, from your company. It can be sold to a competitor covertly through a consultant who just happened to posses your information. The information could be used by a former employee now working for a competitor. An executive recruiter could try to buy a copy of your employee directory to recruit your best employees. There are more ways to make use of information than you can imagine. Trust us on this. There are also many ways to secure your information. It’s not enough to be aware of this, you have to do it. Begin the process yourself and then hire an expert to coach you on what you may have missed – but do it! There are more cards in the Chance deck than just “Get of Jail Free” – some are good and some are damaging ; that’s why it’s called “Chance”. Your unsecured information is like the evil twin to the lottery. Many will play, and most will lose, but every now and then someone, somewhere, will win the jackpot.

Collectively, whatever their motivation, people understand that there is value in information they possess. Whether it’s internal records of a company, or information on the dealings of their clients – all can go up for sale or barter in a legal action. Admittedly, multinational frauds are an extreme example of the recognition of information, but they do drive home a point.

(Howard Fisher – howardsfisher.com)

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