Our new regular feature at Compliance Week puts a snarky spotlight on individuals, companies, and governments that “Failed It” in the areas of ethics and compliance this week and gives out kudos to those that “Nailed It.” If we missed any or if you have any nominations for next week, let us know on Twitter (@ComplianceWeek) or in the comments section below.

Nailed It


Tyler Shultz: The Theranos whistleblower has had his story famously told by The Wall Street Journal, HBO, and 60 Minutes, but for the first time he gets the opportunity to tell it himself. Shultz recently launched his own podcast on Audible (you need to either be a subscriber or sign up for a trial to listen) called “Thicker Than Water” that’s nearly four hours long. We’re only about an hour into it at this point, but so far it’s incredible. If you’ve been following the story of Elizabeth Holmes’ rise and fall (and upcoming trial early next year), this is a must-listen. —Dave Lefort

Jennifer Newton: The Greenberg Traurig attorney deserves a shoutout for this week’s official launch of the National Association of Black Compliance & Risk Management Professionals. The NABCRMP, of which Newton is the founder and CEO, is a member-based nonprofit association for black professionals in compliance and risk management that aims to help develop communities by strengthening its members with professional development opportunities. Representatives from Walmart, Uber, USAA Bank, and other notable organizations make up its board of directors, adding further clout to the group and its inspiring mission. —Kyle Brasseur

Germany: Perhaps the EU’s biggest proponent of data privacy protections, the German government this week made a move to get its own house in order with the announcement of a new federal agency to combat cyber-threats. The organization, according to German media outlet Deutsche Welle, will receive initial funding of €350 million (U.S. $404 million) up to 2023 and will be tasked with coordinating innovative research on matters of cyber-security. Defending against cyber-threats is a top-of-mind concern for many countries, including the United States, so it’s encouraging to see progress being made somewhere. —Kyle Brasseur

McDonald’s: The world’s largest fast-food chain deserves a nod for doing the right thing in regard to its former CEO—even though it was also the difficult thing. The company fired CEO Steve Easterbrook last November for having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. He got a $41 million severance on the way out, and the company had moved on. Fast forward to July, when a whistleblower stepped forward with information about a second inappropriate relationship. Instead of sweeping it under the rug because Easterbrook was already out the door, the company instead launched an investigation that surfaced all sorts of sordid details about additional inappropriate relationships that Easterbook allegedly had with female employees. McDonald’s announced the investigation this week and said it would try to claw back the millions it had paid Easterbrook upon his departure. We applaud McDonald’s for not only listening to the whistleblower, but for taking quick and decisive action even though it meant airing more of its dirty laundry in public. Current CEO Chris Kempczinski sent a letter to employees that both reinforced its commitment to values while also stressing the company was fostering an environment in which whistleblowers felt safe to come forward. —Dave Lefort


Failed It


McDonald’s: The company also finds itself on the naughty list this week for failing to identify the depth of its former CEO’s transgressions the first time it investigated him last year. That’s a really bad look. One union-affiliated fund, the CtW Investment Group, tried to advance a shareholder proposal to withhold former Easterbrook’s severance when it was initially offered last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. It also asked investors to vote out the company’s long-tenured board chairman. Now, it’s calling for his resignation. “McDonald’s current board of directors is simply not up to the task of overseeing the company for the long term,” CtW’s executive director, Dieter Waizenegger, told the Journal—Dave Lefort

Russia: Cutting corners is a common theme to most compliance-related violations and enforcement actions, so it’s incredibly troubling to hear that Russia became the first country to roll out a potential coronavirus vaccine by doing just that. According to multiple reports, Russian scientists rushed their vaccine to market by accelerating clinical evaluations and trial periods and even employed soldiers for testing. If the vaccine turns out to be ineffective (or worse, harmful), it’s going to damage the worldwide public’s trust of other vaccine candidates that are being ethically created and tested. —Dave Lefort

Jan Marsalek: The former chief operating officer at Wirecard and one of the primary figures in the German FinTech company’s infamous accounting scandal was added to Interpol’s most-wanted list this week as he remains at large. “Fraud in the billions” reads the most-wanted notice, which features pictures of a bearded Marsalek from 2017 and a clean-shaven look from 2019. Marsalek is believed to have fled to Belarus before potentially finding refuge in Russia, according to reports. The chance to question Marsalek is key to Germany putting the Wirecard scandal behind it, so expect the manhunt for the rogue executive to ramp up in the coming weeks. –Kyle Brasseur

TikTok: China’s social media darling is already staring a potential U.S. ban in the face, and this week’s report that it was tracking user data using a method banned by Google isn’t going to help its case. According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, TikTok had been collecting “unique identifiers” from mobile devices running Google’s Android operating system without users’ knowledge and without giving them a chance to opt out. It’s unclear what TikTok was using that data for, though that type of information is commonly used to serve targeted advertising to users. What is clear is that it’s not going to help the company’s reputation that it can’t be trusted to responsibly use the data of its hundreds of millions of users. —Dave Lefort

Kevin Plank: The Under Armour founder and executive chairman could be forced out of his position as a result of the SEC’s ongoing accounting probe into the athletic wear manufacturer. Under Armour disclosed in a regulatory filing late last week that the Wells Notices the company, Plank, and CFO David Bergman received from the SEC last month reference an injunction, a cease-and-desist order, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil monetary penalties as potential discipline, in addition to the prospect of an officer and director bar in the case of Plank and Bergman. A Wells Notice is not a formal charge, though it’s enough for Plank and Bergman to know they’re on shaky ground. —Kyle Brasseur