Insider Crime

By Dr. Henry Wong Meng Yeong | Thursday, October 10, 2013

We continue our discussions on the importance of core values which rank over and above social and even physiological needs. To quote evangelist Billy Graham, “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”

When Confucius was asked about governance, he placed trust and trustworthiness above all else, cautioning against excesses which breed greed which in turn undermines trust.

Confucius philosophy considers one’s family an extension of oneself and a country or corporation an extension of one’s family. Values such as trust have to be nurtured from birth. If a child living with his parents is caught stealing from them, Confucius’ advocates correcting behavior by instilling upright values in the child instead of installing surveillance cameras and tracking devices which will not address the problem. In the absence of a moral rudder, insider crime will recur, best explained by the idiom家贼难防, meaning a thief who is an insider is hard to prevent.

This is especially evident in the collapse of Enron, Worldcom and Tyco, corporate crime perpetrated by insiders who included CEOs and top executives. The list of companies affected by corporate malfeasance continues to grow in spite of state of the art auditing and surveillance software. Insiders without integrity know best how to game the system and no amount of tracking and monitoring will prevent it from reoccurring.

Instead, the teachings of Confucius address the core of the problem rather than apply a temporary solution. The over reliance on surveillance technology has shown to be ineffective with the ever increasing incidences of corporate crime. Perhaps it is time to rethink our approach to find a cure and not a temporary fix which is likened to treating polio by improving on wheelchairs. The time, energy and resources saved on monitoring errant corporate behavior could instead be spent nurturing values and learning and to identify and select people with integrity to befriend and to serve one’s corporation and country. The discussion continues.