Case studies and documents
We like offering our clients information that can help them in deciding to hire our research and analysis services, as well as matters that affect the safety of the Company, its managers and its workers.
Case 1 – Appropriation of commissions
A Spanish company in the aviation sector noticed that one of its sales agents showed an expense level higher than it should have been in light of his salary and circumstances. The agent was responsible for aeroplane sales in South America. His functions included negotiating the payment of commissions to the parties signing the purchase contracts, high functionaries in foreign governments
Initial investigations substantiated the existence of significant assets through companies controlled by the agent’s direct family members. The fruit of the investigation also ruled out the existence of events that could explain the disposition of funds for the acquisition of these assets, as well as the merely instrumental character of the companies holding this equity.
Upon broadening investigations, including following the agent on his trips, it was observed that he frequently stopped in Miami during his travels. There, he only visited a personal banking branch of NATWEST BANK. Investigations identified the existence of an account in his name with significant deposits and coinciding with the commission payment dates to the signatories of contracts. Subsequent steps proved the existence of an agreement between the agent and the parties signing the contracts to distribute the commissions received.
The investigation permitted the dismissal of the agent and the recovery of part of the appropriated money.
Case 2 – Stock relocation
A company in the luxury cosmetics sector maintained a policy to repurchase stocks from its clients, aimed at preventing the presence on the market of discontinued products. The products that were bought back were sold to an intermediary, at low cost, for distribution in Africa and the Middle East, countries where the company products were not present.
Despite this, it received information about the sale of company products at discount shops and even at flea markets. Initial investigations performed by GRUPO HAS aimed at acquiring and analysing the products, ruled out the existence of falsifications, confirming that the products were indeed the company’s products.
Upon extending investigations, HAS substantiated that the intermediary acquiring the discontinued products was keeping them on the Spanish market, through a chain of discount shops located in Murcia. From this firm, these products were supplied to local shops and street peddlers. We also detected that specific products on sale were expired and had been relabelled to prevent this circumstance from being detected by the buyer.
The result of the investigation ended in the rescission of the contract with the intermediary and the filing of a lawsuit against the discount shop for marketing expired products.
Since that time, GRUPO HAS has continued collaborating with the company to carry out initial investigations of parties that acquire discontinued merchandise.
Case 3 – Relocation of defective products
A multinational company in the textile sector detected, through its sales network, the presence of its products (lingerie) at flea markets. While this supply at open-air markets was not strange, the low sales price and the lack of boxes induced well-founded suspicions about the origins of the items.
GRUPO HAS carried out preliminary investigations at the open-air markets where the low-priced products were seen, acquiring samples of them and identifying the stands and their owners. The samples acquired were delivered to our client. Analysis confirmed their authenticity (there were not falsifications), although they were defective. The defective nature was not with respect to quality of the piece, but to conformity between measurements and sizes.
The defective products were delivered to a subcontracted handling company that was entrusted with overprinting the brand name and vacuum packaging them in bags with 1000 units. Subsequently, the clothing was sold by weight to a wholesaler, who could market and sell them in countries where the brand did not have a presence (mainly in South America, Africa and the East).
GRUPO HAS took up investigations again in open-air markets, identifying and verifying that the origin of the clothing items was a firm connected to the wholesaler and a director of the client’s company. Furthermore, it was also discovered that the wholesaler had not been exporting for over a year, which necessarily pointed to the sale of the product on the domestic market. Lastly, the investigation proved the participation of the director of the client’s firm in the fraud. The director gave the instructions to the subcontracted company to not overprint the brand name.
Our investigation allowed the company to rescind the wholesaler’s contract and dismiss the disloyal director.
Case 4 – Brand falsification
A company in the textile sector detected the existence of products commercialised with its brand name in flea markets in the ‘levante’ region. The low sales price induced suspicions about where they came from.
GRUPO HAS sent detectives to the region, visiting open-air markets and acquiring the company’s brand name products. An initial analysis substantiated the existence of falsifications.
Upon extending investigations, the party responsible for the deeds was identified. He acquired designer products that were similar from Asian countries. Then, at the installations, he stamped them with our client’s brand name, to then distribute them to peddlers.
The result of the investigation led to the confiscation of the merchandise and the stamping tools, as well as a criminal lawsuit against the responsible party. Furthermore, GRUPO HAS collaborated with the client in determining the goods in the possession of the offender for the effective execution of the pecuniary responsibilities that were declared in the sentence.
Case 5 – Fraud in payment of agency expenses
A shipping company requested our services during a routine audit of its agent in Spain. The object of the investigation was to determine the possible existence of shareholding relationships between the agent and the service providers invoiced to the shipping company.
Investigations determined the existence of several conflicts of interest. Furthermore, it was verified that some of the provider companies were merely figureheads, lacking personnel and facilities, due to which the services were effectively provided via the agent’s personnel and means. This implied that these services were not attributable to the shipping company, having been settled by the fees paid to the agent (calculated as a percentage of the amounts invoiced by the shipping company for transport).
However, the main result of the investigation was the location of payment slips issued by the majority of the providers, all of them related to invoices for services provided and settled as payments on our client’s behalf. These payment receipts though, did not appear on the settlements presented by the agent.
Expanding our investigations led to the verification of the existence of a regular practice by the agent consisting of the appropriation of the volume discounts obtained from providers. Based on this volume, the agent negotiated the best price possible. Then, he instructed the provider to invoice the services at the base price, applying the discounts negotiated on a separate payment slip. The invoice was settled by the shipping company as an expense, while the discount payment was appropriated by the agent.
The result of the investigation led to the rescission of the agency contract and a claim for the appropriated amounts. Thanks to the testimony of detectives from GRUPO HAS, the facts detailed in the report were admitted as proved by the arbitration court that heard the case.
Case 6 – Community fraud – sugar
A sugar company detected the marketing and sale in the south of Spain of sugar shipments at prices significantly lower than market prices. Community regulations about the market for this sector inferred well-founded suspicions about the origin of these shipments.
GRUPO HAS carried out preliminary investigations, locating the buyers and verifying that the merchandise was packaged in our client’s sacks. Internal investigations substantiated that they corresponded to a shipment sold to a company in Liechtenstein at an international value (40% of the domestic market value) for exporting and beneficiary of an economic subsidy from the former EEC. This circumstance made the company responsible for returning the amounts received.
Upon expanding our investigations, which included the mass following of trucks, it was proven that the buyer detoured shipments to Spanish companies. Then, prior to resealing the trucks, they went to Portugal empty to obtain the suitable export documents. Investigations also substantiated that a Spanish citizen was behind the foreign company purchasing the shipments.
GRUPO HAS’ report was contributed as evidence in a lawsuit with Spanish customs authorities, which gave rise to the detention of the buyer. As a result of all this, our client re-established the market situation in the affected region and was released from its responsibilities with the EEC deriving from the crime of fraud committed by the arrested party.
Case 7 – Community fraud – alcohol
GRUPO HAS S.A. was hired by a company in the alcohol sector, against which the Spanish customs house had opened a file to penalise them for presumed export fraud.
GRUPO HAS S.A. received instructions from the export company to initiate an investigation with respect to the sale of a total of 2,500,000 litres of rectified alcohol from molasses that it was shipped between December 1996 and December 1997. Alcohol is taxed with a significant tax that the buying company must pay to the authorities from the country of destination. Portuguese customs did not receive payment of the tax and, as established by law, the responsibility for payment rests with the seller, Spanish customs authorities initiated proceedings against our client for an extraordinary amount.
The investigations carried out by GRUPO HAS S.A. of the Portuguese authorities, the alcohol transport companies, the intermediary firms and the buyer itself led to the result that all of the merchandise left Spanish territory and was unloaded in Portugal, due to which the alleged infractions took place outside of Spanish territory.
Based on the content of the report, along with evidence presented by GRUPO HAS S.A., the Spanish customs house filed the proceedings with all the statements in favour of our client and Portuguese authorities took steps to prosecute the contraband buyer.
Case 8 – Product contraband inside the EU
A sugar company detected the sale and marketing of sugar shipments in Spain at prices significantly lower than market prices. Community regulations about this sector had well-founded suspicions about the origin of the shipments.
GRUPO HAS S.A., through the Spanish buyers and transport carriers not involved in the fraud, managed to determine the site where the trucks loaded the sugar, which was the fishing port of Bermeo (Vizcaya).
GRUPO HAS S.A. verified through the sea transport documents that the merchandise originated from the unloading of the ship Freya and was despatched for open transit by Bilbao customs authorities.
Later steps taken by GRUPO HAS S.A. let it discover that the merchandise in question had been loaded onto the Freya in the Port of Antwerp and despatched with official destination of the Port of Batuomi (Republic of Georgia)..
GRUPO HAS S.A. notified Bilbao customs about the fraud committed by the negligence of the authority in authorising open transit.
Due to GRUPO HAS’ investigations in Antwerp (Belgium), it was verified that, following this same procedure, 2000 tonnes of sugar transported by the ship Marinier were going to be unloaded in the Port of Bermeo. The authorities at the Bilbao customs house were notified once again.
Confirmation that the merchandise had been detoured through our country for unloading and subsequent sale to Spanish end consumption companies led to the apprehension by the customs house of the merchandise transported by the ship Marinier.
Later investigations conducted by this firm allowed proof that prior to said shipments, 15,000 tonnes of sugar had entered Spain using the same procedure.
After the suitable lawsuit was filed -for alleged contraband crimes, defraud of the Treasury Department and falsification of documents- presented by GRUPO HAS S.A., criminal action was taken in the Magistrate Court number 1 in Gernika.
Case 9 – Fraud in importing protected products – tuna
A company that works in tuna fishing detected the entry into Spain of tuna fillets ready for canning and hired GRUPO HAS S.A. to investigate the origin and reason why the importers were not paying the import tariffs established by the EU.
GRUPO HAS S.A. took action by speaking to the port authorities where the merchandise was arriving and determined that the tuna fillets were from Ecuador and were exempt from customs duties according to the documentation due to being under the regime of ‘Generalised Preference System (SPG-DROGA)’.
We notified the client about what was happening and we were then hired to investigate if the Ecuadorian export companies met the requirements to obtain the benefits of this SPG-DROGA regime.
We drew up the corresponding report, a consequence of the investigations carried out by our agency in Ecuador, verifying the lack of a special processing chain for the original and unoriginal material of the companies processing the raw material that was then exported to the EU under the SPG, with both being mixed for the production, thus breaching EU rules with respect to criteria of origin that exported materials must fulfil.
The pertinent authorities were notified that one of the Ecuadorian exporters of tuna fillets to our country was not complying with the criteria of origin established in EU regulations, with respect to the composition of its shareholders and the intermediation in some of its exports for Spain of a Panamanian country, a country not included as a beneficiary of SPG-DROGA.
With the intervention of GRUPO HAS S.A. the fraudulent imports were put to an end.
Case 10 – Localisation of assets
The London office of an international law firm represented the interests of a bank undergoing bankruptcy proceedings against one of its clients, in debt for an amount of 3 million pounds sterling. During the process, the main responsible party (member of the royal family of Syria, but had spent several years in exile and living in London) had declared that he was insolvent.
Based on news related to members of the family residing in Spain, GRUPO HAS was hired to investigate possible assets in the subject’s name in Spain.
The investigation substantiated the existence of three flats in this party’s name, all of them located in a luxury housing complex in Puerto Banús (Marbella, Málaga) and valued at close to 1 million euros each. Furthermore, the subject’s effective use of a luxury vehicle was verified that was valued at 300,000 euros and registered in France.
The result of the investigation was set down in an affidavit signed by the director of GRUPO HAS. This statement was introduced as evidence in the bankruptcy proceedings, in defence of the interests of the banking entity.
Case 11 – Export director disloyalty
A company in the electric material fabrication business required our services to investigate the alleged parallel and unfair practices of his exports director.
Investigations substantiated his participation through a company that was formally controlled by his father (retired), in a recently-established competing business. The information obtained led to the dismissal of the employee and -based on certain facts that were uncovered- to the extension of the investigations to audit the activity of the subject at the client’s company.
To do this, the communications established via mobile phone were studied and a forensic analysis was done on his computer, where both were company property made available to the employee for work-related functions.
The result of the investigations proved that for a period of some two years the employee had been preparing the establishment of the new business, as well as performing intermediation operations on his own behalf, in favour of competing companies. It was also substantiated that during business travel (paid for by the client company) he had been winning over clients and selecting providers and transferring internal company technical information to his industrial colleagues.
As a consequence of the actions and evidence provided by GRUPO HAS, and in addition to the dismissal, the company initiated legal proceedings against the former employee.
Case 12 – Fraudulent leave and own business
A company in the transport sector requested our services to investigate the situation of temporary disability leave of one of its employees, a train operator.
The employee said that he suffered from depression and that this prevented him from assuming the responsibilities inherent to his job post.
GRUPO HAS monitored the activities of the worker for 5 days, reporting on each and every one of his movements. The report verified that the employee was working, during the disability leave period, running his own small business of component assembly and packaging. In addition to his daily presence at the shop, it was substantiated that the employee went to banks, Public Treasury, an accounting firm and to visit possible clients. To do so, he travelled continuously driving his own vehicle over 40 kilometres a day.
The report drawn up by GRUPO HAS let the company dismiss the employee, a dismissal that was qualified as suitable by the court that heard the case that was filed by the employee.
Case 13 – Sabotage
A company in the food sector requested our services to investigate a series of cases of sabotage in its installations in the province of Barcelona. These acts of sabotage were detected first thing on Monday mornings and principally consisted of the intentional breaking of the manoeuvring levers of the forklift. Without the forklift, the products on pallets could not be stacked, leading to storage management problems.
GRUPO HAS analysed the problem and designed and executed the installation of a hidden video-recording system, covering the area where the forklift was located 24 hours a day, with special attention paid on the weekends, when the events were thought to take place.
The system substantiated and verified that the party responsible for the sabotage was the forklift operator himself, who deliberately broke one of the levers upon arriving at work on Monday mornings. The sole objective of this action was to get the day off, since the maintenance service contracted did its repairs in the afternoons, already outside of the worker’s workday.
The result of the investigation let the company dismiss the disloyal worker.
Case 14 – Sales executives who don’t sell
A company in the chemical sector detected a progressive drop in sales managed by one of its salesmen in Seville. After ruling out the possibility that this situation could be attributed to the rest of the sales force, it requested our services to analyse the employee’s working activities.
GRUPO HAS followed the activities of the employee for 5 days, substantiating that the seller only really worked for 3 hours a day (from mid-morning until lunch time). Furthermore, during this time he alternated visiting clients with drinking in bars. In summary, during the entire work week, he only made 5 visits. All of the employee’s movements during the workday were listed in the report, along with photos supporting the written evidence.
Given that while following, the worker was observed carrying out numerous telephone conversations, GRUPO HAS analysed the calls listed on the phone bill, where the telephone was the property of the client and assigned to the employee to perform his functions there. The result of this analysis was that 60% of the usage time of the telephone was for his private concerns.
The result of the investigation let the company dismiss the employee, which was declared as fair by the court who heard the lawsuit that the latter presented.
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