Case Studies

Insider Threat Investigation

Challenge: Our client, one of Chile's largest economic conglomerates, faced with mounting concern over the management of one of its manufacturing plants, requested an internal investigation to be conducted discreetly in a small, rural town. The client had learned second-hand of local vendors engaging in kick-back schemes with the local plant director, as well as a spreading network of corruption and influence trafficking that had allegedly spread through their network of plants in the region.

Approach: SP conducted a relationship analysis of the key players indicated by the client to map a baseline of relationships. From a wider body of locals who were interviewed by a local reporter, our team then developed a short list of potential whistleblowers who had been wronged by the targets of the investigation to seek anecdotal evidence of unethical practice. From these interviews, our team identified and developed two individuals who were willing to come forward as witnesses. With the baseline of relationships, dozens of hours of interviews with local sources, and some documentary evidence offered by wronged individuals, our team completed a facts-based narrative that presented the entirety of the subject's network, a list of the vendors who benefitted from the unethical practices, as well as witnesses willing to come forward if called.

Result: Our work enabled the client to separate rumor and hearsay from fact and within its own internal audit process. HR managers were pin-point significant areas of concern because they knew where to look and understood clearly the relationships involved. 

Client Benefit: The internal audit process resulted in the legal, ethical removal of the appropriate individuals, improving the client's local brand recognition and relationships with ethical vendors.

Pre transaction Due Diligence | Negotiation Support

Challenge: Our client, a large-cap private equity investment fund, required pre-transaction due diligence of a gasoline refinery plant in a South American country ahead of a final round of negotiations to establish purchase price and associated closing costs. Their main concern centered on the additional funds potentially required to manage the refinery's alleged downstream relationships with a group of gasoline distributors who had benefitted from sweet heart deals with the refinery managers.

Approach: SP quickly learned from a local whistleblower who had been largely ignored that the sweet heart deals were tightly controlled by a gasoline cartel operating out of a city in the north of the country, located near the plant. We developed the hypothesis that the gas cartel was artificially reducing the price of gas at the pump to push competitors out of business. Through a combination of static and mobile surveillance, network mapping and relationship analysis, and asset tracing, our team took three months to detail the cartel's business and illegal activities, all facilitated by two men at the refinery who were selling gas well below market rates for quarterly kickbacks. We learned that three men ran the cartel, and had expanded a network of white label gas stations into four cities in country on the back of the beneficial contracts, bringing into the scheme various members of their extended family. In addition, the men would selectively target rivals to push out of business, purchase the land, and then invest in commercial real-estate deals. These men had invested in local and provincial-level political campaigns to effectively purchase political cover. Finally, through the acquisition of forged export licenses and invoices, we learned that the cartel was exporting illegal gas to two neighboring countries.

Result: Our work enabled the client to approach the negotiation with an evidence package to present the seller, one that would have required the seller to denounce the internal problem, bring to light the cartel, and ultimately reduce the sale price of the refinery by tens of millions of dollars.

Client Benefit: Our client, who ultimately decided not to make the purchase, was able to successfully avoid the purchase of what would have been not only a loss of time, money, and effort, but potentially a criminal liability in country, as well as a significant brand liability for their firm.

Risk Assessment and Security Protocol Development 

Challenge: Our client, one of the region's largest gold mining operators, required a risk assessment and security protocol analysis and development support for a recently acquired mind in the interior/south of a country in South America.

Approach: SP worked with the local, recently-hired security manager to understand vulnerabilities and consequence and with a local field team deployed out of a city in the southern part of the country, mapped the local threat environment, and political environment at the local and provincial level.

Result: Our team prepared and presented a risk analysis based on threat, consequence, vulnerability, identifying acute triggers and "hotspots" that could develop into areas of concern.

Client Benefit: Our client took our information, along with internal input, to complete the formation of a robust risk management solution and security protocol for mine operations in a remote location.