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Finding the Corruption Needle in the Haystack

Carole Switzer | April 24, 2012

Beryl Markham was a 20th Century female adventurer and one of the first pilots to fly solo and non-stop across the Atlantic (she did it from east to west against prevailing winds). Markham also knew how to turn a phrase. “The way to find a needle in a haystack,” she once said, “is to sit down.”

When it comes to conducting corruption investigations, we would do well to heed her advice—as a warning.

The investigation of a report of bribery or another alleged corrupt act resembles a search for a needle in the corporate haystack. However, investigators who sit down on the job can be certain that their organizations will endure consequences far more painful, costly and disruptive than a little jab.

If the investigation team simply starts rooting around in the hay without this knowledge, the investigation is going to drag on; worse, it may fail to uncover the full scope of the problem. Violations are rarely isolated. If the investigation team fails to unearth other,...

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