Prior to both opening a public web-site early in 2010 and operating as a corporate entity, Faire Sans Dire had operated behind closed doors for many years in different forms and under different guises. Faire Sans Dire’s unrestricted web-site has attracted visitors from circa 150 countries since it opened in 2010. Of those that visited about two thirds of them returned to our modest web-site at least once more after their initial visit and a large proportion of those contacted us directly.
Since 1978 when Faire Sans Dire effectively commenced as an organisation we have been involved in a wide variety of assignments spread across more than 100 countries. The assignments ranged from normal background corporate and personal checks to identifying and investigating alleged frauds ranging in size from a few thousand dollars to billions of dollars. Typically we will be handling a few longer term assignments simultaneously but we always retain the capacity to undertake other one off and/or smaller assignments at literally a moment’s notice.
We have undertaken hundreds of short term assignments that have lasted for a couple of hours or so to a week or two and many longer term assignments which have lasted for well over 1,000 man hours and kept going for years. Our assignments have spanned the globe and frequently involve working and/or carrying out research and operations in multiple jurisdictions.
Whether or not we are working on small or large assignments our standards remain the same and whenever possible we have an internal but independent quality control review of the more important aspects of any assignment we have undertaken prior to reporting our findings to our clients.
We rarely talk or write about specific assignments we have undertaken for clients for obvious reasons and if we do (even in an anonymous way) we do so with our clients’ consent. Since going public in 2010 some of our assignments have been intriguing tales of the unexpected. From 2010 to 2013 inclusive our investigations and other assignments covered activities in about 70 different countries, about 20 of which Faire Sans Dire had previously not operated in.
On a few occasions in the last couple of years the advice we offered on our web-site to potential clients concerning keeping their investigatory plans confidential was ignored. Interestingly those who did so were those you would least expect to make mistakes such as directors of listed companies, experienced barristers etc. They either inadvertently told too many people what was going on or failed to enforce rigorous security and disinformation measures to maintain the confidentiality required to prevent those they wanted investigated from becoming aware that they were to be or were being investigated.
By way of example, on one occasion, pursuant to meticulous but swift analysis, we discovered within a couple of days of having been awarded an assignment that various emails had been intercepted by those we had been hired to investigate. In fact our “targets” for research and investigation had been intercepting our client’s emails weeks before we were even appointed – for all we know the targets may have even watched the “beauty parades” between three investigatory firms that culminated in our appointment. The targets then tried intercepting our emails – understandably we pulled the plug on that assignment!
We were also astonished that even nowadays when the “Richter Scale of Suspicion” inexorably climbs ever upwards, sophisticated organisations fail to undertake genuine due diligence to check out say a critical supplier or a prospective employee for a key role. Some seem to still associate due diligence with acquisitions and hiring directors full stop.
Indeed, the “Richter Scale of Suspicion” has reached astronomical levels. During some assignments from 2010 to 2013 inclusive we noted en passant exploitable flaws in web-sites of businesses prima facie not connected to our investigations. As has been our normal procedure for many years, where we are not prevented by legal or other reasons we do advise other unconnected parties for gratis (within reason) of gaps or lapses in their security we note during the course of assignments. From 2010 through to 2013 inclusive we reported several such issues to some organisations that even school children have heard of.
The suspicions that greeted us trying to do good deeds were beyond anything we have experienced before even though our credentials were for the first time plain for all to see courtesy of this web-site. Maybe they were concerned their bosses might find out how ineffectual their web security was. Of those we approached we were profusely thanked in only one case. In others we encountered much suspicion and one of the rudest IT directors we’ve ever met. But more amazingly, in one case where there were multiple serious exploitable holes in their web-site security, despite making group board level contact, they never got back to us to ascertain what we had uncovered. The organisation was a well known UK and European retail bank. We won’t be advising you where not to place your deposits!
“Going public’ so to speak has been a reinvigorating exercise for us. The good news was that we have picked up new repeat business straight away which we believe is more of an acknowledgement by new clients of the quality of the services we deliver rather than the fact that our charge out rates are very low. Since 2010 we have handled a wide variety of assignments for clients ranging from individuals to household name multinationals.
We are also very pleased to say that a good proportion of our work was carried out on a pro bono basis for victims of financial related crime and what might euphemistically be described as victims of “governmental prejudice” (or in simpler jargon, corruption). We also provided support and introduced legal representation to those who could not afford it or had been turned down by law firms for other reasons.
Even though the company carries our family motto “Faire Sans Dire” its day to day motto is “ABC”. Assume nothing. Believe no one. Check everything. Why? By way of examples, before launching Faire Sans Dire into the public domain, during three ostensibly quotidian assignments many years ago we had to:
1. Assume nothing – On one occasion when checking a reference we had to advise a prestigious international law enforcement agency that a high ranking ex-employee whom it had provided an excellent reference for had a criminal record they had failed to detect before they had hired him.
2. Believe no one – When we took instructions for one assignment from the Chairman of a multinational business we discovered that he was “the culprit” even though he had hired us to investigate his FD hoping in vain that we would find a reason to fire her. He was ousted instead and we saved her, once her loyalties were turned and she had been taught how to blow a whistle.
3. Check everything – A client who had adamantly told us that a key witness had been dead for three years (and shown us his UK death certificate) eventually yielded to our insistence on checking everything from scratch (in this particular case). We located the witness hiding in Africa in good health albeit somewhat afraid of being subpoenaed.
We are not at liberty to comment on recent assignments but we could write quite a few tales of the unexpected about some of them and you’d probably think they were fiction. There are connections there with The Burlington Files but we will leave it up to you to fathom those out!
This article was first published on 17th February 2012 and last updated on 19th June 2013.