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Romesh Ratnesar:  You’re the head of a private investigative firm, Quest Research and Investigations LLC, and have written a book on your industry, “The Modern Detective: How Corporate Intelligence Is Reshaping the World.” One of the themes of the book is the role that private detectives play in keeping the global financial system solvent by exposing fraud. Based on your experience, are cases of financial and business fraud more prevalent than people are aware of?

Tyler Maroney:  Private detectives are hired by companies, sometimes through outside counsel, to conduct internal investigations. The advantage for companies to hire investigators themselves is that they can control the investigation, so to speak, as opposed to having to go directly to law enforcement. This doesn’t mean that they’re sweeping fraud under the rug. But it does mean that sometimes private detectives find evidence of wrongdoing that might not reach the level of reportable criminal behavior but is nonetheless important to know about.

There is some circumstantial evidence that there is more fraud in the corporate world than there was in the past. We’ve learned about this from several big leaks in the last 5 or 10 years—the FinCEN files, the Luanda Leaks, and the Panama Papers, all of which seem to suggest there are different groups involved in alleged wrongdoing, whether it’s sovereign nations, large banks, shadowy corporations, dictators, and the like. Private detectives often play a role in uncovering that fraud, as do others, such as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which works with reporters around the world to root out fraud. So although there is no clear data on an increase in fraud, there is anecdotal data that it’s becoming more prevalent.

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