My random thoughts on societal risks

A certain heart-wrenching and gruesome event that happened very recently and the subsequent findings by the police / investigation agencies (read here: //timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/accused-returned-to-spot-to-ensure-body-was-burnt/articleshow/72323219.cms will touch the hearts of any good person (of whichever country / religion / caste / creed or colour). What is more shocking is that out of the four accused persons, one of them is a minor boy aged about 15 years.

Another 35-year-old woman was also burnt alive and the body found in a couple of days after the above incident and close to the same venue.

It makes me wonder where we are going wrong all the time in preventing tortures and crimes against women. In my opinion, “women at risk” is a topic today than even discussions about mitigating business risks should take a back seat for some time.

Catching the culprits and snuffing out their lives through capital punishment is only momentary solace and will seem quick justice to the parents and loved ones of the deceased. There are and there will be many more offenders lurking for an opportunity to assault women for whatever reasons. This is true because after the shocking “Nirbhaya rape and murder” that shook the nation a couple of years ago, such an incident has happened again.

  • Is it the victim’s fault that she was a good-looking young girl?
  • Is it wrong that she was in a profession that required her to work late evening?
  • Can you lay the blame that she was unaccompanied by a chaperon at that time?
  • Is it right to say that women should never venture out alone after sunset?

Societal and family values play a major factor in bringing in awareness about how and why you should respect women. It might seem that too much advice by parents and teachers will not work with young minds. But just remember the good old days when children had enough attention at home (either parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, etc.). The effect of strong familial values goes a long way into the development of the human psyche.

We are living in a fast-paced society where working parents and nuclear families have little or no time to devote to child development (and I mean all-round development – not just academics and scoring high ranks).  In such a situation, teaching fundamental values of life begins at schools and educational institutions. Parental guidance / counselling on raising children should start at the grassroots at all levels – irrespective of which economic strata they belong to.

We also need to strongly question why some common risk factors are not taken seriously by the Government / local administration and police, such as

  • desolate places without enough lighting,
  • no vigorous night police patrolling at such places,
  • no quick response mechanism or follow-up by the local police when incident is reported,
  • poor enforcement of the law and delayed justice in courts,
  • biased opinions by media based on religion and politics that subverts the very motive of the crime.

We, as responsible citizens, owe it to ourselves to deal with the issue of why women are at risk and what we could do to mitigate the same to prevent such dastardly crimes from happening. There is no use expecting the Government to come to the rescue since this is a fabric woven by the society in which we live and education must start in each and every home.

“Fox minding the hens” – Interesting snippet

Imagine a situation when somebody at the C-level is responsible and in-charge of ensuring ethical standards and setting policies on insider trading is himself accused and punished of that very same prohibited action.

Yes – this is what CFO.com titled the news “At Apple, the Fox was minding the Hen house”. Very strong words but very apt criticism of non-compliance in the top echelons of the company.

The tech giant’s former Global Head of Corporate Law, Gene Daniel Levoff, was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with trading Apple securities ahead of three quarterly earnings announcements in 2015 and 2016.

Before the public announcement of Apple’s earnings, Levoff sold off all his personal holdings worth about $10 million Apple stock from personal brokerage accounts. By doing so, he avoided personal losses of about $345,000. Apple’s share prices dropped by more than 4% when it publicly disclosed quarterly financial data.

“Levoff’s alleged exploitation of his access to Apple’s financial information was particularly egregious given his responsibility for implementing the company’s insider trading compliance policy,” said Antonia Chion, associate director of the SEC’s division of enforcement.

As a senior Director, Levoff reported to Apple’s general counsel, and reviewed and approved the company’s insider trading policy. Not only that, he was the one who notified employees regularly about blackout periods around earnings announcements.  He also managed the company’s corporate subsidiaries structure and was a Director in several Apple subsidiaries.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Newark, New Jersey, charges Levoff with fraud and is seeking the return of his trading profits plus interest and penalties. It is also seeking to bar Levoff from serving as an officer or director. In a parallel action, the U.S. attorney’s office for the district of New Jersey announced criminal charges against Levoff.

Levoff, of San Carlos, Calif., was let go by Apple in September 2018.

News: Courtesy Vincent Ryan, -Feb 13 2019 CFO.com/US

An interesting snippet – Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. has warned its employees to stop leaking information.

Apple is one company that is quite secret about its product plans and it ensures that its product information and strategy does not go out. However in recent times, a Bloomberg reporter, Mark Gurman got hold of an internal memo by Apple that strictly warned internal employees about leaking internal information.

This incident at Apple Inc. just proves once again, that in many corporates the greatest threat of information theft and leakage (whether deliberately for gain or just innocuous communication) is caused by insiders such as employees, contractors or other close business partners.

Leaking critical information before a product launch can jeopardise marketing strategies and a setback that can result with competition coming up with counter plans that could derail the launch. Leaked information about a new product can negatively impact sales of the current model; give rival companies more time to begin on a competitive response and lead to fewer sales of that new product when it arrives.

According to the memo, the company caught 29 leakers during the year 2017 and of these 12 were arrested. The memo says that last month, Apple caught and fired an employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apple’s software roadmap. “Hundreds of software engineers were in attendance, and thousands more within the organization received details of its proceedings. One person betrayed their trust,” reads the memo.

The employee who leaked the meeting information thought that he wouldn’t be caught. But Apple warned that the consequences of leaking information, can be as punitive as not only losing their jobs but also massive fines and jail times for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets, both classified as federal crimes.

The memo also advises employees not to fall trap to social engineering tactics – such as being befriended by media, press, analysts, bloggers to pry for any information on social media like twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Leakers were identified through Apple’s Global Security digital forensics team and internal investigations culminated in them being fired out of the company.

On fraudulent behavior and scams

Corrupt staff and insiders helping fraudsters …

Accepting fraudulent behaviour and corruption as a way of life is one of the worst degradations of personal and societal ethics and norms. It not only plunges the concerned nation, organization, individual engaged in both giving and receiving illegal gratification (either in the form of cash or kind or power) to the lowest depths, but also is a terrible example for future generations.

If one looks at the mega scams and frauds that have been brought to light in recent times in India, each one surpasses the other in terms of scale – the Kingfisher -Vijay Mallya scam, the Nirav Modi-PNB scam, the telecom (2G) allotment irregularities, the coal scam, the fodder scam, the Aircel-Maxis dealings, the illegal graft for even getting appointments with top ministers for approvals such as foreign investments into India, etc. And the list seems to be growing by the day that people treat these news as yet another incident and move on. (Simply because people do not see it coming to a logical conclusion within a reasonable time frame.)

Take for instance the scam-hit Punjab National Bank. It is among some government organisations which ignored the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) advice to act against its allegedly corrupt staff, the anti-corruption body has stated in a new report. This non-compliance to the Commission’s advice was tabled in the Indian Parliament recently.

This non-compliance report comes at a time when the said Bank is facing multiple agency probe in over Rs 13,000 crore loan fraud allegedly committed by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.

For securing the credit limit and term loans, it has been observed that the bank accepted two properties situated in Delhi “without ensuring genuineness of property papers as well as its geographical location”. The Commission advised initiation of major penalty proceedings against the senior manager of the Bank. Out of 14 charges, the inquiry officer has held only two charges as proved and one charge as partly proved.

“On conclusion of inquiry, the disciplinary authority proposed to levy a minor penalty of ‘censure’,” the CVC said in its report.

This nonchalant way of dealing with major financial crimes and covering it up with minor disciplinary actions and penalties did not stop the loot by the borrowers and corrupt staff of the Bank.

Justice delayed is justice denied and unless there is a fast tracking of investigations and bringing to book the fraudsters and exposing and shaming them, nobody is going to sit up and take notice of the news and exposures that are being hammered day in and day out across television channels and social media.