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WATCH: Power, Corruption and Russian Ties – Uncovering Russian political links and protecting a client from reputational risk

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How boardroom intel helped close a $300m funding round

Our investigation into a client’s prospective investor revealed unsettling political links to controversial Russian figures, money laundering allegations and a corruption scandal.

Neon Senior Intelligence Analyst Lucy Hunter – who led the investigation – explains how, using our in-house Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) platform COSMIC, the team were able to identify multiple red flags that protected the reputational and financial health of our client’s business, allowing them to successfully close a $300 million funding round.

Due diligence through OSINT is the new litmus test for investors – and many of our clients use Neon to figure out exactly who they’re dealing with. With so much at stake financially and reputationally, insights into the true behaviour, character, and networks of those sitting at the helm of investee businesses are incredibly important, informing business decisions and protecting firms from potentially devastating implications. Most of the information sits in the public domain on the Internet – albeit buried in the deep web.

Background:

Our client was the founder of a successful AI start up. The company was entering into a new funding round and came to Neon requesting intelligence on a potentially problematic Russian investor expressing interest in the business.

The investor had already admitted that he was politically exposed, and that his affiliations might cause our client some trouble. As Neon’s in-house Russian speaking analyst,  Lucy led the investigation to uncover any information that may have put our client at risk.

The board wanted to know whether they should go into business with this investor and were looking to establish any risks they should be aware of before accepting the investment. Specifically, they wanted more information regarding the investor’s political ties, his previous track record and any general red flags related to the individual and his network of companies in Russia.

Intelligence obtained:

At Neon, we recognise the value in having a global team of analysts. Being a fluent Russian speaker was critical in the outcome of this particular investigation. Linguistic and cultural knowledge helped uncover intelligence that others would almost certainly have missed.

We were able to add context to the investor’s comments, discovering that he was personally acquainted with high-profile figures in Russian politics, including President Vladimir Putin and PM Dmitriy Medvedev. We also uncovered new red flags that the client was not aware of, such as the investor’s involvement in a corruption scandal involving key government officials from other CIS countries, and participation in a high-profile offshore money laundering scheme for almost a decade.

Knowledge is power

Prior to receiving our report, our client was close to accepting this individual as an investor. Our report made him re-assess his decision.

He subsequently successfully closed a $300 million funding round, avoiding associations with an investor who could have seriously damaged both his own, and the company’s reputation.

This client now uses Neon for all his intelligence needs.

Lucy Hunter, Neon Senior Intelligence Analyst

OSINT demonstrates that well-sourced internet data is critical to any mojor boardroom decision: it’s legal, legitimate, fast, and immensely powerful. It has the capability to unlock meaningful insights into teams and companies, informing business decisions and protecting the financial health and reputation of investors.

At Neon, we recognise that boardrooms need intelligence more than ever, and with over 250 trillion web pages online, the depths of the internet provide game-changing intelligence, relating to mergers, acquisitions, litigations, associations, and other corporate issues. You just need to know where to look.

Our elite team is sourced from world-class institutions such as NATO, GCHQ, the RAND Corporation, the EU and ‘Magic Circle’ law firms, and is fluent in all the world’s major languages. There is no field, sector or geography that we cannot illuminate for our clients.

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