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CORPORATE ETHICS: AN OXYMORON? Oracle's crooked partnerships
Wednesday Oct 3rd, 2012 9:45 AM
Oracle's Platinum partner ZANETT is defrauding investors in a pyramid scheme, but it's selling Oracle's psoftware and pays $$$ in partner fees so who cares?
In May this year, Business Week published an article "Can Corporate America Ever Be Cured?" with many examples of corporate crime. 3 days later another article, "Why Corporate Ethics Statements Don't Work" ( ) seemed to answer that question. The author, a former corporate HR executive, stated that "most of us in corporate America are so steeped in the “win at any cost” mindset. We’ve grown up in the culture of competing to win, taking no prisoners, and making the bold move, no matter where it sits on the ethical borderline." Just as she mentioned, "every company of any size introduced an Ethics Statement a decade or more ago. In too many cases, they’re just words buried deep on the company website.”

Oracle Corporation is an exception: it has not only a page, but an entire website (hosted by EthicsPoint) titled Oracle Integrity Helpline. As stated on its home page "EthicsPoint will route all questions and reports to Oracle's Global Compliance & Ethics organization, which will insure that your questions are answered, that all credible reports of suspected misconduct are investigated fairly, thoroughly and discreetly, and that appropriate corrective action is taken where warranted."

Does this apply to Oracle Partner Network, companies selling its software and paying for the privilege to be called an Oracle partner? Oracle's legal eagles protected the company from possible misdeeds of its partners by inserting a disclaimer against such responsibility. But...

Is Apple responsible for the mistreatment of workers at its Chinese plants? Is IBM responsible for selling its equipment to Nazis to facilitate prisoner record keeping? What if your business partner is involved in illegal activities, would you dissolve that partnership?

Apparently not. In the Oracle World conference held Sept.30 - Oct.4 there is at least one Oracle partner, Zanett Inc.., whose questionable tactics were reported to SEC, FINRA and FBI. However, a report to Oracle was fruitless: why would it lose a paying partner pushing its products even if that crooked dealer defrauds seniors of their life savings?

Zanett and its CEO Claudio Guazzoni were the subject of many negative reports even from financial analysts. This title alone says a lot: Zanett Inc. (ZANE): Their Revenue/Press Release Games & Their CEO Who Likes To Party Others are just as telling: STRANGE CASE OF ZANETT and CITY TAKES RISK – a warning to the mayor of Indianapolis about to hire Zanett to overhaul its computer systems. (That warning was ignored: governments can be just as unscrupulous).

To raise cash, Zanett started offering Unsecured Subordinated Notes that offered very high interest rates for term deposits similar to CDs. (The CFO admits the sale started in 2002 even though the official sources show 2005) Even though Zanett group of companies already had a securities firm, to protect itself from upcoming liabilities, it hired an outside agent, Sumner Harrington of Minnesota, to sell and manage the notes. By then, Sumner Harrington was disciplined by regulators many times and was barred in Illinois, yet, it did not deter Zanett’s bosses. After many illegal tactics such as targeting seniors, concealing the risks of the investment, non-disclosure and other violations of securities, contract and elder laws, Sumner Harringon’s proprietor and only employee Ed Elverud was barred by FINRA and declared bankruptcy in 2010. Yet, he never notified investors and is still selling Zanett and other notes with Zanett’s blessing.

The CFO boasts that over the years Zanett sold notes to over 500 investors who were always getting paid. But, for the last few years, Zanett was not redeeming any notes and, if we believe CFO's own statements, it owes over $3 million to "about 13" elderly investors. Some lost their life savings. Continuing promises to pay are never put in writing and never materialize. A classic pyramid.

Zanett maxed out its credit, has losses in every statement and no cash. Yet, it spends $$$ on fake PR reports, flashy accoutrements for Oracle World conference where they sent 14 people this year to stay at glitzy hotels and found enough cash to pay hundreds of thousands in bonuses.

Even lawyers would not represent Zanett's defrauded investors on contingency as they have little hope they’ll ever get their fees, so why would Oracle ask any questions if its crooked partner is still in business ready to sell Oracle products?