jim-img1Buzz…Buzz…Buzz…Buzz. The vibrating phone on the night stand has finally stirred Jim from a deep sleep. He reaches over and grabs the phone to see who’s calling at this hour of the night. It’s Fred Carrington, the head of his board’s audit committee. Jim answers the phone.

“Hi Fred. This must really be important for you to call me at this time of night.” Fred responds in a somber tone of voice Jim has rarely heard.

“Jim, sorry to wake you up. I hope I didn’t also wake Cara.” Jim glances over at his wife’s sleeping peacefully. He says,

“Not a problem. Cara could sleep thorough a rock concert! What’s so important that you’re up at this time of night? Your tone of voice tells me it’s not good news.”

“I just got off the phone with Roger Pinkett, the audit partner in charge of our audit this year. Roger is an old fraternity brother, and he gave me a courtesy heads up call a few minutes ago. We’re going to receive an interim internal control report tomorrow implicating our Mystic Controls operation in a substantial accounting fraud.” Jim was accustomed to receiving bad news, but accounting fraud—not on his watch! Jim asked,

“How high does it go?” Fred responded,

“You’re not going to want to hear this, but all the way to the top.” Jim asks,

“So, is Kurt involved?” Fred says,
“Roger tells me that Kurt is the moving force behind the fraud. And, it gets worse. Kurt has been siphoning money through a number of front companies in order to pay gambling debts and support his mistress.” Jim exclaims,

“That miserable bastard!” Jim’s outcry wakes Cara.

jim-img2“Jim, what is it?” Cara turns on the bedside light and sees tears trickling down her husband’s cheeks. Jim, regains control, and asks Fred.

“How much theft are we talking about?” Fred responds,

“At least $20 million, maybe a lot more. You’re not going to like this, either. There is also evidence of money laundering on behalf of some very bad actors. It seems Kurt’s mistress has some close ties to the drug trade. Jim, I’m sorry to bring you this news at this hour. But, I figured a heads up was better than a jolt out of the blue in the morning. We’ll talk more tomorrow.” Jim ends the conversation and sits in silence for several minutes. Cara says, “Jim you’re scaring me! What is going on?” Jim breaks his silence. “Our little girl and our granddaughter are about to pass through a very long valley of sorrows. I should’ve never allowed her to marry Kurt. There was always something about him…”

This story eventually ended with prison sentences, hundreds of millions of lost shareholder value, business and professional reputations tarnished, and a shattered family. Suppose we could prevent these types of ethical scandals? Or, if not prevent, at least maintain a heightened awareness of high risk managers and leaders? We can. Ask me about Heart-Mind Maps.