The Paradox of Transparency
Certain global developments are quite paradoxical in nature.
On the one hand, global legislative developments are steadily moving towards more transparency and less privacy and confidentiality. Individuals and organizations that have something to hide, who are not following the principles of good governance, obviously value a high degree of privacy and confidentiality. Nevertheless, privacy and confidentiality are also desirable for those who conduct their business in good faith. For solid business reasons, one must keep information private and confidential. Increasingly care must be taken that your private information does not land in the wrong hands and be used to your disadvantage. In these modern times, privacy and confidentiality have evolved from “good to have” to “must have.”
However, privacy and confidentiality are not only valuable for business reasons but are also very important for the protection of individuals. Most of the time when one discusses and analyzes the protection of information, one makes reference to asset protection—holding onto your money—but seldom is there much discussion about personal protection. With alarming and increasing frequency, one of the greatest risks of not keeping asset and personal information private is kidnapping. Kidnapping happens in almost all countries and in some it has evolved from a small-scale criminal activity into a professionally managed, large-scale" business” enterprise.
Even thought Sadekya our main area of expertise is to help you find legal and compliant ways to structure your business affairs and hold your assets privately, we thought it good to gather and share some information with you about the issue of personal protection from kidnapping in relation to the paradoxical concepts of transparency and privacy/confidentiality.
The following points present an analysis of the problem and some thoughts about possible actions that you could consider to reduce your risk of ever being kidnapped.
Based on the results of our investigation, we came to the conclusion that kidnapping could be divided in three basic categories, namely:
1. Virtual—in which the victim has no physical contact with the kidnappers but is called, threatened, and forced to pay the extorted amount of money
2. Express kidnapping—whereby the victim is held for short period of time, usually involving being forcibly taken to an ATM machine to withdraw the maximum allowable limit of cash.
3. Traditional kidnapping—whereby the victim is captured and physically detained until a ransom is paid for his or her release.
The fact is that almost 80% of traditional kidnappings go unreported but what research there is on the crime has shown that typically kidnapping occurs within close proximity of the victim’s home or office and most of the time the perpetrators receive help from someone familiar with the victim’s assets, routine, etc., for example, an ex-employee.
The following actions could be taken to lower the chance that you would become a target:
1. Try to look like others around you in the setting you are in, that is, do not wear expensive clothes, watches, jewelry, etc., where it will stand out and perhaps have a less expensive vehicle as well as a very expensive vehicle. In summary, try to avoid an ostentatious appearance of wealth.
2. Travel with someone else (not alone) on safe routes and avoid being predictable, using several routes and travel time. If you must travel on certain routes regularly, plan an escape route at various locations.
3. Have your cell phone ready to make an emergency call or have On Star or another emergency communication system in your vehicle.
4. Be wary of vehicle breakdowns along your regular routes and never stop your car to help strangers if they appear at all to be suspicious in any way.
5. Always be alert, if a car is following you for more than five minutes, as you might be being followed. Try to “shake” them by making a u-turn, circle the circle, or pull over to the side of the road right after a curve, forcing the car to pass you.
6. If you are walking and you get the feeling of being followed, enter a public place with more people.
7. Keep your personal information private and check the background of everybody who works for you.
To minimize the chance of anyone obtaining personal or financial information, one can always use available legal tools such as a private foundation to legally hold your assets in a private and confidential way, avoiding disclosure of your identity to those with wrong intentions. Please refer to the October 2010 newsletter (The Private Foundation) for more information on this process.
Yet, in cases where one lives or travels frequently in countries with a higher risk, also it would be wise to consider a kidnapping and ransom insurance policy. Risk mitigation assessments are offered by numerous insurance and risk management companies. These companies also offer preventive measures such as planning, preparation, situational awareness training, and escape considerations.
Key features of an effective kidnap and ransom insurance policy include:
• Reimbursement for the costs associated with a possible kidnap for random, blackmail, confinement, or hijack.
• Immediate access to a kidnap and ransom specialists.
• Travel risk assessment and assistance.
• Training and development of personal security strategies and corporate risk mitigation guidelines.
However, should one opt for such an insurance policy; this should be kept strictly private, as it might itself increase the likelihood of becoming a target.
More and more, both corporations and individuals are being asked to be more transparent in their business dealings, while at the same time having to protect themselves financially and personally. This is one of the paradoxes of modern life. We at Sadekya are committed to the financial and personal well-being of our valued clients and we certainly hope this brief introduction to the issue of personal protection will motivate you to assess your situation and to approach personal protection professionals if you feel the need.