The CEO’s Ruminations


‘Was the season to be, well, concerned, curious, frightened and a touch pissed off.

Bah humbug, you say?  Turn on the TV to watch some “fake news”, play with your Twitter feed to enjoy the non-stop, off-the-cuff commentary of The Donald, read a bit about Brexit or “The Rocket Man”, evaluate your portfolio against the backdrop of free money economic development or…I hope you got the picture.

Nevermind, the globe continues to spin and life sallies forth, perhaps with fear and loathing, but also oozing with enthusiastic human optimism and belief that tomorrow always will be better.

With that in mind, I turned my one finger-typing prowess to my keyboard targeting an issue that pits the age-old belief in “privacy and confidentiality” against the non-stop fight against crime or that matter just downright naughty behavior.

Ponder this one while recovering from the festivities and slipping back into the old office routine with your new year resolution shadowing you.

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Ophray Winfrey

Did I just quote the so called Queen of TV Talk Shows?

Oh my, I definitely think it is happy hour somewhere as I clearly need a drink…or a dozen!!!

Does privacy and confidentiality trump legitimate, non-law enforcement inquiries into potential crime?

This question has been posed ever more frequently in recent rubber-chicken luncheons of regulators, law enforcement bodies and lawyers/accountants in relation to drug trafficking, terrorism, cyber-hacking, tax evasion, financial fraud and all manner of sophisticated white collar crime.

The answers have varied from yes to no to maybe and every permutation of the same that may exist between the white, black and gray proferred by the self-proclaimed geniuses who constantly debate the issue.

I encounter this Q&A every week, if not more often, when fielding inquiries from our clients who are facing the seemingly impenetrable wall off offshore confidentiality.

Offshore, of course, is improperly accorded mostly to small Caribbean and South Pacific jurisdictions that market and sell all types of perfectly legitimate corporate vehicles, trust relationships and other “structures” that assist global business people, high networth individuals and large multinationals to maximize their financial returns in a tax-effective, private and confidential manner.  Sadly, one rarely hears mention of the largest offshore jurisdiction, i.e. Delaware, in such conversations as, well, it enjoys the warm and cuddly protection of Uncle Sam and the Weapon of Mass Destruction, i.e. the US Dollar.  Alas, I digress…

Returning to the subject, I decided to take a peak at the issue in a more narrow context of the jurisdiction which seems to plague our clients the most.  That is the tiny, sun-drenched, sandy beach dominated, British Overseas Territory aptly named the British Virgin Islands or BVI as it is better known.

Sincere apologies to the BVI in advance, but it is what it is – our clients’ complaints largely focus on this hugely successful, and equally maligned, offshore jurisdiction.

The focus of such grievances usually shine a light on the presumed, unassailable confidentiality of BVI Business Companies (previously known as International Business Companies or IBCs).

No doubt, privacy and confidentiality are important selling points of BVI Business Companies.  In fact, the BVI Financial Services Commission, the financial services regulator in the territory, states in relevant part on its website that

“The establishment of the Commission also ensures a commitment by the BVI to play its part in the fight against cross border white collar crime while safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of legitimate business transactions.” (bold letters added by me for emphasis)

You will notice “safeguarding…privacy and confidentiality” rubs shoulders with “fight against cross border white-collar crime” as though the concepts are comfortable bed-fellows.

Not so says the client seeking to determine “who is behind that BVI Business Company that just swallowed (while rudely burping) my entire retirement nest-egg?”  These sort of inquiries flood my desk as law enforcement fails to address the potential crime in a timely and effective manner.  I know they try, but success is usually a day late and a dollar short.

I know answering the question will be an uphill battle. I always inform our clients quite candidly that the hoped for pot of gold at the end of this hardly sparkling rainbow will not be easily obtained.  However, I-OnAsia has a team of skilled sleuths with decades of experience as formerly licensed persons in virtually every offshore jurisdiction on the planet including the BVI.

Simply stated, we know how to approach the issue of slowly, albeit purposefully, chipping away at the confidential veneer of the BVI Business Company.  No, we do not necessarily rely upon whistleblowers of licensed firms in the jurisdictions, albeit we cautiously welcome such offers.

Our multi-pronged strategy starts with obtaining information via legitimate searches in the BVI that uncover the essential elements of the relevant Business Company’s incorporation, such as the licensed Registered Agent.  In some instances, the identities of the Directors and Members of the BVI Business Company may be available.  If not, then we always can petition local authorities to access such information from the Company Registry.

We, of course, would love to access the non-public search platform called BOSS (Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System), but such privileges, at least to date, are the sole province of the BVI authorities such as the previously referenced Financial Services Commission.

Regardless, the foundation is set for our assault as we use this information, along with our client’s complaints, to encourage assistance from relevant regulatory bodies, law enforcement, licensed persons, media (witness the impact of the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers), banks and any other organization willing to grant us an audience to press forward with our legitimate inquiries.

This is only the beginning of our efforts to hold the BVI Financial Services Commission, its licensed practitioners and investigative agencies in the Territory (as well as the United Kingdom authories with significant influence if not ultimate oversight) to the promise of ensuring “privacy and confidentiality” does NOT trump the lawful “fight against cross border white-collar crime”.

Or, for that matter, any criminal or even immoral conduct improperly inflicted upon our clients.

I believe the unrelenting effort and surprising victory of David over Goliath is not simply the stuff of Biblical lore.

Such unrelenting effort is I-OnAsia’s commitment to our clients facing seemingly unbeatable offshore privacy and confidentiality…let us be your David!!!

Happy New Year !!!

First in Hong Kong: Advanced Dark Web Diligence

What’s lurking beneath the surface of the Darkweb that affects you?

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is now receiving reports of over US$ 1 billion in cyber-crimes per year. These reports are just the tip of the iceberg, with many losses going unreported to the FBI and other authorities.

To identify the cyber threats that affect business executives and investors, I-OnAsia is now offering standard and enhanced Dark Web searches on diligence projects.These searches build on I-OnAsia’s years of experience investigating cyber threats that include investigating business email crime (BEC), confidence fraud, corporate and personal data breaches.

I-OnAsia’s cyber infrastructure of advanced stand-alone machines and software mines the Dark Web and Asia’s unique criminal chat sites for indicators of stolen credentials, personal information, and other past or planned attackers.

Our dedicated researchers draw from their real-life investigative experiences at the sharp end of the spear: chasing anonymous extortionists, investigating causes of data breaches, responding to malicious insider cyber sabotage, identifying stolen goods and criminal networks coordinating through the Darkweb, and reclaiming funds that stolen via cyber-enabled socially engineering.

Standard checks focus on answering basic questions, such as: Is sensitive corporate data, a corporation’s customer data, and/or personal data relating to key executives available for purchase or use on the Darkweb?

Advanced searches can consider the importance and value to the enterprise of identified executive cyber knowledge and reputation, corporate cyber capabilities, and customer data protection in practice.We then identify key short term and long-term solutions.

The CEO’s Ruminations

I was sitting in my office contemplating the big issues confronting human kind – where to have a glass of bubbles for the evening, Cantonese or Thai cuisine – and I started typing. I am not sure why, but I do know my mind, especially in our continually more frightening world, simply cannot stop considering all sorts of issues with which we are confronted.

Thus, the birth of The CEO’S Ruminations

I plan to put fingers to keys twice a month to let you know the problems I see floating across my iPhone or computer screen along with solutions the wonderful I-OnAsia professionals can offer to ease the potential pain caused by the same.
Simultaneously, I hope to make you smile, perhaps a bit, with my somewhat lighter approach to these darker issues.
Join me in the quest to sally forth into the night without fear or loathing. I welcome your critical feedback, bad or good, but hopefully well-intentioned and reasonably polite.
Until next time…
Derek

Cryptocurrency Blackmail: “Commit The Oldest Sins The Newest Kinds Of Ways” – Henry IV, Part II, William Shakespeare

Leave it to Shakespeare to predict modern day blackmail via cryptocurrency. Good on ya, Billy!

Seriously though, cryptocurrency is a digital currency that uses cryptography for security, is difficult to counterfeit and, in theory, is both immune to government regulation and provides anonymity for the user. The darling of all cryptocurrencies may be Bitcoin, which currently is bestowing upon the brave astronomical paper returns. A wild ride for sure, but one that rivals even the best night out with the fellas!

Blackmail, which is when a lazy-good-for-nothing threatens to reveal information about a person or his/her loved ones that is potentially humiliating to, damaging the reputation of, or possibly incriminating the victim unless a pecuniary demand is satisfied.

When you combine this relatively new method of transferring value between parties with the attitude of “if you do not give me money, I will tell our teacher that you cheated on the exam”, you encounter a powerful tool…and it is sadly available to all.

Why?

First, the lack of government regulation and anonymity engenders a feeling of invincibility within the blackmailer. If Big Brother neither is interested (yet) nor capable (watch this space) of stopping the evil-doer, then evil he/she shall pursue without trepidation. Equally, if no one can trace the money, then sally forth he/she shall to the land of milk and honey.

Second, and here is the crux, any idiot with access to the Internet and a warped sense of right and wrong can play this game. It is no longer the realm of super-geeks with mega-computing power.
Finally, and of immense importance, the stakes can be very high when the regulatory, legal, technological and moral obstacles are effortlessly defeated via a click of a mouse.

Alas, the words of The Bard resonate heavily in the ears of the businessperson, father or mother, celebrity…well, let’s just narrow it down to everyone!

Never fear, dear readers, as I-OnAsia is here!

We have put together a world-class team of law enforcement, legal, forensic accounting and super sleuths (your author, humbly, included) to combat these scallywags!

Where regulation fails, we excel. Where law enforcement scratches its head, we provide the anti-itch problem-solving expertise. Where technology becomes the playground of the malevolent, we don our crusader’s cape. Where morality reaches the deepest circles of Dante’s Inferno, we descend with our convictions.

Simply stated, we have the right people, unparalleled experience, creative problem-solving skill sets and a ruthless dedication to righting an age-old wrong.

Having said that, we recognize the many ever-present difficulties when combating a virtual foe.

As such, we recommend the following approach:

  1. Do not get your knickers in a twist. The blackmailer is hoping to scare you into doing something stupid like, well, paying the “male” (Middle English for “rent” or “tribute”).
  2. Do not engage in any additional form of communication with this base animal.
  3. Think twice before involving law enforcement at the beginning. Someone may be watching you. If necessary and at any time, your local constables will be ready to assist. In the first instance, you may wish to consider other less public options.
  4. If we were not clear about “…doing something stupid like, well, paying…”, then we apologize. DO NOT PAY!!!
  5. Save all communications, audio, visual or otherwise.
  6. Do not be ashamed, regardless of the threatened exposure of your conduct. You are the victim. The blackmailer is the bad person.
  7. Call me!!!

We believe the undoing of all invincibles (save, perhaps, Super Man or The Hulk) is hubris. As with Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, or Macbeth, who could not reign in his desire for power and position, the blackmailer is his/her own worst enemy.

Our multi-pronged approach employing the skill-sets of our well-experienced professionals, offers the best chance to resolve this matter in a cost-effective, efficient and private manner.

We are not arrogant enough to beat our chests and shout the oft-heard cry “we always get our man.

However, we do posses the experience (not our first rodeo with cryptocurrency blackmailers), skill-sets (our creative, problem-solving professionals) and the passion (we really enjoy our work) to battle against the commission of the oldest sins and squashing the same by I-OnAsia’s newest methods.

We hope not to hear from you regarding blackmail or the equally ugly crime of extortion.

But if the Devil knocks, please tinkle. We know him, and we are ready to hasten his return to Hell!

I-OnAsia Sponsors ASIS CSO Summit Opening Lunch

pentagon

I-OnAsia is pleased to sponsor Monday’s upcoming lunch at the 10th Annual ASIS CSO Summit, in Washington DC. The event will be an opportunity for senior security officers to exchange ideas and share best practices.  ASIS is a fantastic organization that I-OnAsia has supported for many years. FBI deputy director Mr. Andrew McCabe will speak to the group during the lunch. I-OnAsia was founded in 2001 and has undertaken over 4000 cases for American clients, many of whom are Chief Security Officers with backgrounds in law enforcement. America’s security leaders turn to I-OnAsia because our people on the ground have the right qualifications and a tremendous track record of success.

I-OnAsia Supports Epping Upper Clapton RFC

Being a long-time supporter and benefactor to the club I-OnAsia is once again happy to support the donation of High Vis “safety gear” for the upcoming annual “South Africa” event, for all the local South African children taking part.

Epping Upper Clapton RFC president Danny Elmer expressed his thanks on behalf of EUC RFC and I-OnAsia’s continued support to the club over the past 30 years.