Benefits of Pre Employment Screening

Pre Employment Screening is a term often talked about among management without the full benefits and controls that it can bring to bear on a business being appreciated and understood. The following is a Q & A format to explain the issues that Pre Employment Screening can treat.

What is PES?
PES is the abbreviation commonly used for `Pre Employment Screening’. PES generally refers to the process whereby a prospective employer arranges for information relating to a potential candidate to be checked and verified to confirm the suitability of the candidate for employment or as a contractor.

Why do companies use PES?
PES provides an objective assessment as to the potential candidate’s capacity and capability to undertake the duties & responsibilities as per their experience and qualifications. The prospective employer has the ability to assess whether the candidate has fully disclosed their attributes and or any negative incidents such as a bankruptcy record or having being terminated by a previous employer.

Which companies use PES?
Some companies are required to undertake mandatory PES by the government, such as banks and insurance companies. Others choose to do as a risk mitigation and management planning tool and cover a wide spectrum of industries from retail, transport, manufacturing to mining. Many not for profit agencies and other volunteer organisations also conduct PES on prospective employees to screen out unsuitable or undesirable candidates.

Isn’t PES a method used to `catch people out?’
This is a common misconception among some potential candidates. PES is directed at verifying the potential candidates claimed attributes and highlighting any inconsistencies between what is stated and what is found during the PES process. It is for the employer to assess the suitability of the candidate for the position based on a host of considerations.

So how does PES work?
The general approach is to have potential candidate supply personal information in writing which relates directly to their employment such as education attainment, working history, job experience, references from previous employers etc. This information is usually supplied by submitting a standard form and supplying copies of any qualifications such as a Degrees or membership of a professional society.

Next is the verification process. Armed with a consent release from the candidate, contact is made with the relevant education intuitions [universities, colleges, TAFE, high schools etc], former employers and references provided by the candidate to ascertain whether the claims made by the candidate are accurate and valid. A report is compiled detailing these findings and submitted to the requesting potential employer or organisation. Any discrepancies between what the candidate has submitted and what was discovered during the verification process are given a `red flag’ for the client to consider.

Is consent from the potential candidate required?
Many countries have some form of Data Privacy law that requires that the candidate must first provide written consent before these PES checks can be undertaken. Most institutions will require viewing a copy of the consent release signed by the candidate before disclosing any information.

What other kinds of things can be checks can be performed?
There are a variety of background checks which can be undertaken for a prospective candidate depending on the country where the candidate is located and to what the prospective employer wishes to check the background. These checks include the following:

  • Record of directorships or shareholdings in private companies
  • Bankruptcy record
  • Previous residential addresses
  • Civil litigation history
  • Media profile
  • Criminal record
  • Record of any regulatory agency actions

How focused is PES?
PES is as focused as the requesting company or organisation wants it to be. For example, a transportation company would think it crucial to confirm that a potential candidate for a driver position should have a clean driving licence, whilst a different firm engaging someone as a financial assistant may consider this check unnecessary. A qualified PES firm should be able to advice as to which checks are germane to the position which the candidate has applied for.

How many years does a PES check go?
Generally a PES check goes back between 5 and 10 years for previous employment whereas records such as bankruptcy and civil litigation can go back 20 years or more. With employee turnover increasing in most industries and companies merging or being bought out, employment records are difficult to obtain longer than 10 years back

How many days does PES check take?
The actual time will vary depending on the number of attributes to be verified, the location and the type of checks involved. Generally, a PES report can be completed within five days but some component checks can take longer to complete [e.g. criminal history checks].

But I heard that recruitment agencies do PES?
Not really, no. Some recruitment agencies do undertake some basic background checks to corroborate the candidate’s history but few recruitment agencies conduct what can be considered a thorough PES. Unlike a PES firm, recruitment agencies are looking to fill a vacancy and focus on selecting a candidate.

What are the downsides to PES?
Very little. Other than having to pay a small fees for the PES check and a slight delay between choosing a candidate and having them confirmed as being suitable.

Compare with this the risks and damage caused when hiring the wrong or inappropriate candidate. The direct costs can include the waste spent on the recruitment and training of the person, costs and difficulties with terminating their employment and possible damages claims.

However, the risks can be even more severe than this including damage to the company’s brand or share price plus the machinations of deposing of an unsuitable employee when they hold a more senior role. Compensation paid to wronged parties can quickly escalate and there are multiple examples of how much harm a rogue employee can cause an organisation – examples include Dr Jayant Patel hired by Queensland Health as surgeon despite being restricted from certain operations by the State of Oregon, USA and New Zealand chief scientist Stephen Wilce having falsified his resume. A standard PES check should have raised these red flags prior to them being hired and causing harm and damage to the reputation of the organisations involved.

PES is recognised as an integral first step for anti fraud measures protecting an organisation. By screening any prospective employee or contractor the organisation can save itself some serious grief in the future. On occasions this first step of PES will ward off potential fraudsters / under achievers simply by demonstrating that the organisation takes PES serious. We have had instances whereby applicants have declined to submit their details and walk away – possibly an indication that they will move on and try to join an organisation that isn’t so particular.

Are you seeking assistance with Pre Employment Screening of employees or contractors? If so, we at Regents can help you – just visit our Pre Employment Screening Webpage for further information

Mobile phone hacking scandal rumbles on

It is four years since the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World newspaper [the leading UK Sunday newspaper] saw the newspaper’s former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, jailed for his part in hacking into the mobile phone voicemails of Princes William & Harry. It appears that Clive Goodman was so desperate for a `story’, he resorted to engaging a Private Investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, to hack into the voicemail messages of the Princes for leads and gossip.

The two were found out when members of the Royal household noticed that messages they had yet to access were marked as `read’ plus Clive Goodman published a vanilla story in the News of the World about one of the Princes having medical treatment for his knee – almost word for word from a voice mail left for the Prince.

Four years ago the  News of the World  claimed that the phone hacking was the product of one misguided journalist and the private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. An investigation was undertaken by the Metropolitan Police and there was enough evidence to prosecute these two. They both went to gaol. That was the end of that.

But it wasn’t. Rumours swirled around that in fact many of the journalists at the News of the World had used Glenn Mulcaire to gain access to the voicemail of celebrities and even senior politicians. Further allegations surfaced that in fact the Metropolitan Police had stacks of evidence that showed the phone hacking went far beyond the two Princes and also involved far more journalists within the News of the World. But the Metropolitan Police were flaccid in their investigation – followed by suggestions that senior Police officers had relationship with the publishers of the News of the World. Lord Prescott, Former Deputy Prime Minister and alleged victim of the phone hacking scam, is now seeking a judicial review into Scotland Yard’s handling of the investigation.

But the matter was kept alive by the Guardian and New York Times newspapers– both direct competitors to the publishers of the News of the World. Things were further complicated when Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, was promoted to be a media advisor to David Cameron, the newly elected Prime Minister.

Coulson has denied knowing of the hacking but many doubt how valid this claim is. In court testimony for another matter, Andy Coulson said under oath the refrain that the phone hacking was due to one isolated journalist. However, Coulson must have known that Glenn Mulcaire was officially being paid ₤100,000 per year plus additional cash handouts – for doing what exactly? Some wonder whether any fresh evidence could disprove the sworn testimony of Andy Coulson and expose him to the charge of perjury. Stranger things have happened.

And now the stonewall put in place by the News of the World has some serious cracks in it. Each week in the UK another celebrity announces legal action against the News of the World, claiming that their privacy has been invaded by the phone hacking.

Some celebrities are taking separate legal action against Glenn Mulcaire directly for the phone hacking whilst he in turn is appealing against a decision to make him divulge which journalists on the News of the World hired him to hack the  phones.

The Police have now admitted that they had seized multiple pages of phone details from Glenn Mulcaire with first names handwritten on each – supposedly by Mulcaire indicating which journalist within the News of the World was requesting the information. Will Mulcaire declare who ordered what phones to be hacked? Will he name names? The News of the World news editor, Ian Edmondson, had been suspended amid allegations relating to the phone hacking of actress Sienna Miller’s phone.

Lawyers acting for alleged victims of the phone hacking suggest that there may have been thousands of victims. Around 3,000 phone numbers were listed in documents seized by Police back in 2006 and telephone records for Glenn Mulcaire show multiple calls from his own phone to the numbers used by celebrities – the path of evidence should be fairly easy to follow. How vigorously will the Police pursue it this time round?

This one will run and run.

How was the phone hacking conducted?
For some mobile phones, it is possible to listen to any voicemails by dialing an access number, enter the mobile phone number followed by the PIN.

Often the user either leaves the PIN as the default – usually `0000’ – or else chooses a simple PIN like 1234 or 1111. On some occasions, the hacker may get the PIN via dumpster diving or else under pretext – calling the phone provider pretending to be the owner and asking for the PIN.

How to protect yourself from phone hacking?

  • Choose an irregular PIN such as 4729 or 8147
  • Do not record the PIN in an accessible place i.e. a post-it note on your desk or in your diary
  • Change your PIN every few months
  • Observe whether any voicemail messages have been designated as accessed before you have viewed them
  • Report any suspicions you may have to your mobile phone provider and insist that they investigate the matter
  • Do not pass your PIN to anyone else

In the meantime, wasn’t it The Jam that sang the lines:

Each morning our key to the world comes through the door
More than often its just a comic, not much more
Don’t take it too serious – not many do
Read between the lines and you’ll find the truth

Read all about it, read all about it – news of the world

Read all about it, read all about it – news of the world

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with mobile phone forensics or computer forensics? Simply go to our Computer Forensics page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

India investigates Dehli Games corruption

The  new Indian sports minister has sacked the chief organiser of 2010 scandal-ridden Delhi Commonwealth Games as the coalition government suffers a string of corruption scandals and thus seeks to repair its own public image.

Ajay Maken said he took the decision to terminate Games chief Suresh Kalmadi and Secretary General Lalit Bhanot so that the inquiry can mount an open investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the $6 billion event held in October 2010.

The Games were intended to be India’s answer to China’s impeccable staging of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, the Delhi Games descended into a complete farce and were salvaged only after a last-minute mad scramble by the red-faced government.

Once the Games were finished, the government appointed  federal investigating agency the Central Bureau of Investigation to review allegations of corruption and irregularities in the construction, organisation and conduct of Commonwealth Games 2010.

Long before the actual Games began, corruption charges surrounded the London leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay, which lead  to the sacking of three senior officials in August. Subsequent inquiries by Indian anti-corruption watchdogs identified several irregularities in the awarding of contracts and identified several Games projects beset large-scale corruption.

The Games debacle resulted in Ashwini Nachappa, a former international athlete, teaming up with ten other international athletes spear-heading CleanSports India, a nationwide campaign to rid Indian sports of all types of crooked officials and rigged results for gambling, including those overseeing the games.

Investigations have revealed scandal after scandal involving officials with kickbacks, off-shore companies, forged emails, unjustified payments to bogus companies and inflated costs for goods and services ranging from cleaning to exercise machines. The final costs for the Games are expected to be over $8 billion – most of it paid by the tax payer and draining government resources.

India’s leading corruption watchdog, Central Vigilance Commission, highlighted the irregularities in more than a dozen projects and questioned the quality and finish of the venues. Huge piles of rubble and rubbish, a collapsed roof, hanging wires, leaky walls, broken tiles and an incomplete stadium became the visual staple of daily newspapers and television channels.

The government and police have been kept busy with the upcoming Cricket World Cup due to start in February 2011. The state of some of the venues has been criticized and there is the fear that the rampant illegal bookmaking syndicates will try to infiltrate the player’s dressing rooms and hotel accommodation.

Despite the recent disciplining of three Pakistani players for match fixing, the lure of easy money and the fact that nearly all gambling in India is outlawed means that ready cash flows around the stadiums and has the power to spoil the sport.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with anti corruption, graft or misconduct issues? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Woolworth’s buyer and coffee importer charged over corruption

A senior Woolworths executive and an alleged co-conspirator both face criminal charges following a protracted investigation into a corruption kickback scheme operating inside Australia’s major supermarket chain.

In January 2011, Bill Harvey, formerly Woolworth’s national buyer for coffee, tea and sugar, was charged by Police with receiving or soliciting secret commissions and with conspiracy to cheat or defraud. Harvey was responsible for selecting the brands and lines of coffees and teas from a number of suppliers across Australia. Therefore, Harvey would have been required to frequently meet with current and prospective suppliers as well negotiate terms of contract for supply.

The allegations centre on the claim that Mr Harvey accepted a percentage of a ”promotional fee” from the coffee and tea supplier for the purpose of ensuring that the coffee and tea products were given space on Woolworth’s shelves.

One of Woolworths suppliers was Melbourne based LZ Enterprises, which is the Australian distributor of Arrosto Bello coffee and Cha Yuen tea brands. Robert Lever, now the former marketing and export manager at LZ Enterprises, dealt with Harvey as part of his task for promoting the brand.

Upon receiving this allegations, Woolworths undertook its’ own investigations and made a report to the Police. Harvey was subsequently arrested at the Woolworth’s offices. Internal auditors are checking to see if other products are involved in the alleged scheme and whether more offences may be detected.

The charges come almost a year after both were arrested during operations by police in New South Wales and Victoria. The matter came to light after a tipoff from a disgruntled supplier suggesting that corrupt activity was occurring.

Corrupt kick back schemes are nothing new for the major grocery retailers in Australia, Woolworths and Coles. In October 2009, Woolworths removed three buyers from the fresh produce purchasing department after investigations showed that the grocer was paying up to $20 per carton too much for vegetables from one of its supplier. In 2006, Coles fired an executive after a secret business deal came to light that the executive and the owner of Tasman Group Holdings, then one of Coles’ primary suppliers of red meat products.

When employees interface with suppliers and vendors on a daily basis there is always a likelihood that over time they may form an illicit alliance and seek to act corruptly. As demonstrated in the case above, it is possible to detect errant employees and have them arrested / prosecuted for this activity which can be so damaging to the company and the reputation overall.

In order to reduce the likelihood of corrupt activities between employees and suppliers, plus increase the chances of detecting such activity, it is advised to at least follow some of these suggestions:

  • Ensure that all meetings between employees and suppliers take place at designated locations only, usually company offices
  • Have all meetings documented and meeting notes made to detail what was discussed and agreed
  • Have managers randomly attend meetings to ascertain the demeanor and progress of discussions on pricing, quality, deliverables
  • Ensure that all proposals, agreements and communications are scrutinised by auditors and or legal departments
  • Issue a Code of Conduct outlining what constitutes corrupt or dishonest conduct and the severe penalties involved for this activity
  • Have all employees and suppliers / contractors read the Code and Conduct and sign that they will abide by this
  • Install a working `whistle blower’ program so that any party can make a formal complaint as to suspect activity
  • Have regular training and education on the perils of corrupt activities
  • Rotate employees between positions so as no to over familiarize them with individual suppliers

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing internal theft and corrupt activities?

Simply go to our Internal Theft or Corruption Investigation pages for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.