According to a report published by an international maritime watchdog, the recent spurt in pirate attacks off the Somali coast is connected in many ways with the financial services industry. The confidential report, prepared after the organization carried out extensive investigations, throws light on the brains behind the dreaded pirate groups acting ruthlessly in international waters.
According to the report, some of the rogue CEOs and fraudsters of global financial institutions that went bankrupt in the last decade have teamed up with the pirates to target loaded cargo vessels passing in their waters. Though the pirates had the muscle, they desperately needed some shrewd planning to implement their evil agenda. The pirates first reached out to these rogue traders by accessing the profiles on various social networking sites and then offered handsome pay packages that proved irresistible.
The report says “some of these executives were recruited through Linkedin and offered CTC packages on par with the best in the industry. The package included an all expenses paid vacation to any location of their choice, twice a year. All the fraudsters had to do was to come up with innovative strategies to keep the money coming in, like they did when they were on the payrolls of big banks. In fact some of the CEOs were even given group performance linked incentives, got out of turn promotions and are now running the show from remote locations inside Somalia.”
The report goes on to say that there are many groups that are headed by former financial services honchos that are operating off the waters of Gulf of Aden. A typical group will have former fishermen (for navigation), former militiamen (for handling arms and ammo) and geeks (for managing communications and hardware). Jerome Kerviel, the dude who took the socks away from SocGen, is said to be heading one such group.
So do the rogue traders shift camps? Yes, says the report. Sometimes rival executives are poached upon and join groups after serving the mandatory notice period. Mostly, executives are offered hefty salaries as bait to bag their services. “The operations are run in a corporate manner to suit the rogue executives. There is a HR guy handling all payroll and employment concerns, infrastructure management team and even the corporate communications guys are there”, the report says.
“These pirates value the services and experience these executives bring and the idea is to have a cunning brain onboard that can get a bunch of crooks to act together and show results,” says a piracy expert.
By K.V. Prayukth, Member of the Education and Communications wing of the IUCN. He was appointed as the Communications Coordinator for the Indo-Norwegian Environment Programme. And after a brief stint with a national financial daily as a correspondent and an MNC as a Technical Writer, he is now part of the marketing and communications team at an IT firm in Bangalore.