How To Solve Geopolitical Business Crisis Before It Starts

Geopolitical Risk

What would you do if you recently made an acquisition of a company in Ukraine and Russia suddenly invaded? What would happen to your supply chain? How would you deal with international sanctions?

Better yet, was there anything you could have done to avoid such a devastating situation for your business in the first place?

The definitive answer is YES. Whether you make an investment , expand your company or complete a merger or acquisition in a foreign country, you must ascertain the specific geopolitical and economic risks that could not only potentially hurt your bottom line, but also put you in serious legal jeopardy – well in advance.

But how?

The speed at which things can change in a given region or country’s geopolitical situation means it’s almost impossible to identify hidden dangers on your own, even if you conduct your own internal risk assessments.

You cannot foresee the next Arab Spring or avoid getting into business with a Bad Actor unless your due diligence includes real-time, boots on the ground intelligence with a proven track record of delivering warning indicators in advance.

To know what you are really getting into in another region or country, or who you are really doing business with, you must know exactly where to look if you’re going to minimize your vulnerability and protect yourself from a long list of consequences that could damage your ROI and your reputation.

Geopolitical Risk Assessments you need to safeguard your global initiatives and investments. Solving Risks Before They Start™

This is the best way to make sure you’re never blindsided and always find the correct path forward to continued success.

CLE Accredited Courses

Infortal’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses are designed to equip executives, attorneys and risk managers with strategic insights to navigate the complex landscape of geopolitical risk. We cover topics such as international sanctions, regulatory risks, corporate espionage, AML, global warfare, anti-terrorist financing and corruption.

We can help you make informed decisions and mitigate potential risks for your business.
LEARN MORE   

Identify And Solve Emerging Risks Early

Every investment your company makes in another region or country not only comes with the possibility of lucrative returns, but also serious risks to your profitability and bottom line.

But the good news is that you can still make confident strategic decisions to take back control of even the most potentially volatile situations, IF you expose the geopolitical risks BEFORE they start.

Here are some of the main areas Infortal can help you prepare for:

 

Country Risk Assessments

Are you prepared to deal with cartels in Mexico or threats to your intellectual property in China?

How do you know if your foreign investment is in a country with a significant safety or security risk that has not yet transpired?  Or if emerging political events in a country could lead to instability or economic risks that could undermine your bottom line?  The warning signs are always there, but only if you know exactly where to look.

It’s not enough to just look at a country in isolation, either.  You’ll need the resources to determine which regional risks could have a devastating effect on your ROI, your cost of business, your supply chains, and/or your legal liabilities and/or regulatory costs. 

Your ability to weather any storm depends entirely on having the proper country and regional risk assessments provided by Infortal well beforehand.

 

Monitoring Corruption

What happens if you intend to do business with a company in a country like China, only to find out after the fact that bribery is simply the standard cost of conducting business? Or perhaps you weren’t aware which countries regularly employ institutional corruption where it is customary to accept gifts for business transactions in the Persian Gulf? You could find yourself in a ton of hot water, including violating US or international anti-corruption laws.

Similarly, if you don’t do proper due diligence on WHO you are working with, you leave yourself open to potentially being partners with someone involved in money laundering.

Are you up to date on exactly how corruption practices vary in each country? If not, you risk violating international sanctions, Beneficial Ownership rules or violating the Patriot Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the UK Bribery Act.

The truth is, you probably don’t have adequate tools in place to judge your true risk of dealing with corruption. General corruption indexes are not detailed or specific enough to give you sound information to make the best business risk decisions.

Don’t get caught in a bad situation that was completely preventable. Infortal’s enhanced due diligence investigations services can help you flag those who may be exposed politically to corruption as well as potentially corrupt third parties and government officials.

Avoiding Criminal Charges

Did you know that your foreign investments as a company could lead you to commit an actual crime inadvertently? 

Unfortunately it’s a real possibility and here’s why:

While you might do adequate research on international business laws and regulations before you close a deal, what may be legal in one country might not be legal in the United States.  This is a question of a country’s Business Norms Vs. Your Actual Legal Liability.

You don’t want to find yourself in a legal nightmare simply because you don’t have first-hand knowledge of local and regional geopolitical risks such as unknowingly working with local gangs, transnational criminal organizations, or even crime that is backed by a political entity or government-backed state owned enterprise . 

Infortal’s on-the-ground experience will ensure that you are protected from accidentally becoming involved in a criminal market or enterprise or finding yourself legally liable for criminal activity simply because you misread a country’s cultural norms without knowing it violated international or U.S. law.

 

Sanctions Violations

It’s one thing to familiarize yourself with major international business sanctions such as sanctions against Russia’s energy imports…

But it’s another thing entirely to know how to avoid violating sanctions that may apply to third-party individuals you may be doing business with.

Changing geopolitical events means you might not be adequately prepared because a country may impose new industry-specific or enterprise-level sanctions at any time. And getting this wrong could mean punitive fines and criminal prosecution for your company.

You won’t know if a potential business partner or supplier is being used to circumvent sanctions, unless you receive accurate and timely geopolitical intelligence and enhanced due diligence across your entire supply chain.

Infortal’s rigorous Geo-Risk Methodology and in-country information will make certain your sanctions risk is minimized at every level of your business so you’ll always know in advance when sanctions may be imposed or be lifted.

 

Avoiding Damage To Your Reputation

What do you do when your business is struck by a public relations crisis that’s entirely NOT your fault?

You could easily find yourself at the mercy of a business partner conducting an ill-advised marketing campaign such as the recent use of children in Balenciaga’s ads, or a social movement you weren’t even aware of that brings activists to your company’s doorstep.

It doesn’t take much to light this kind of match, especially if you have little to no control over business partner actions overseas. And even if your company is not a direct target, simply being associated with a country, region or company that is can cause irreparable harm.

And if your business is directly or indirectly involved with the firearms industry, Big Pharma, medical device companies or cryptocurrencies…your risks of eventually suffering a damaged reputation leading to immense business losses is quite high.

Our advisory services and real-time geopolitical risk monitoring can protect you from the very worst blows to your reputation before they ever occur, especially if you are engaged with these industries, either by product or geography.

Your best bet is to make sure you are protected from such a reputational risk in the first place. That means having the ability to accurately assess both prior business history, and public attitudes as they change, along with being able to deploy the right messaging to your key audiences when it’s needed.

You don’t want to end up like Nike after it was uncovered China was forcing hundreds of young women in a factory to make shoes. Real time business intelligence from Infortal can identify possible PR risks and scenarios that may harm your company as well as define the likelihood of each risk such as activist groups operating in a country and/or region.

 

Get Ahead of ESG Risks

Whether it’s severe flooding in Thailand that disrupts your technology supply chain network…

An oil rig explosion in the Gulf that creates an estimated $65 billion in fines and cleanup costs…

Or an electric company in California facing $300 billion in liabilities from outdated equipment that led to severe wildfires…

It’s critical that you get ahead of potential Environmental, Social and Governance ( ESG) issues that could derail your company.

But it’s not enough to just identify the risk of such disasters in advance, you also need a plan to mitigate any potential damage to your organization.

Are you currently thinking about how your business acts as a steward for the environment and how you plan to deal with climate change? If the answer is no, then you should be.

The frequency and severity of extreme weather events is only going to increase, as well as rising temperatures, sea levels and the need for carbon and emissions regulations.

How you govern these risks is just as important. Do you remember when Volkswagen got into serious hot water for falsifying emissions tests? Well, this poor governance ended up costing VW 33 billion dollars in fines, settlements and buyback costs.

You also don’t want to end up on the wrong end of social risks such as unknowingly participating in human rights abuses such as forced labor, human trafficking or sex slavery within your vendor supply chain..

All because you never vetted complicated supply chains, multiple subcontractors, or corrupt third parties up front, or you didn’t understand the relevant economic and cultural risks associated with doing business in a particular region or country.

The best way to reduce your exposure is to make use of Infortal’s business risk assessment which incorporates current industry and company-specific red flags. We’ll make sure you have a clear picture of third-party practices – before and after signing a contract with a supplier.

How you handle and prevent any risks associated with the technology you use is just as important. You don’t want to end up like LinkedIn – associated with a data breach that saw information on 700 million of its users posted on the dark web.

But how do you make sure all of your investments are safe and sustainable with Cybersecurity being the #1 concern for investors – and with good reason.

Protecting your business from cyber attacks, ransomware or hacking by foreign governments or international gangs is no easy task, especially with a growing number of companies being targeted.

Infortal can assess your in-house cybersecurity practices and reduce any privacy risks associated with sharing your data with your supply chain partners.

And incorporating Infortal’s ESG risk management into your business can also have great benefits such as minimizing your costs, finding new business opportunities, increased access to capital and investors, improving your regulatory compliance and protecting the value of your brand.

Preventing Disruptions From Social Unrest

If your company was located in the Middle East in 2010 or 2011, you most likely had no idea the Arab Spring revolutions were coming.

That’s because the most common socioeconomic indicators showed only strong economic growth. So most businesses were caught completely unawares when revolts broke out that disrupted supply lines, and dramatically increased fueling and production costs.

Your operations could have continued to run smoothly, however, if you had access to Infortal’s business intelligence…

Which would have revealed the high geopolitical risk of the massive wealth disparity developing in the region, along with increasingly low public satisfaction levels and a lack of access to health care, clean water and affordable housing. All of which worked together to create a powder keg that finally exploded to become the Arab Spring.

Without this kind of expert Geo-Risk Methodology, you won’t be able to determine when a protest may be imminent – or when an otherwise nonviolent protest may transition to rioting and looting.

You also need to stay on top of any potential transportation strikes in a country or region that can impact your supply chains, lead to delivery delays, higher shipping costs, and a huge loss of revenue.

Infortal’s due diligence empowers you to reroute your business operations and practices before you can be affected by any transportation issues, so your operations always continue to run smoothly.

In depth investigative due diligence combined with business intelligence and boots on the ground investigations, integrated with geopolitical assessments will help identify these issues well in advance.

 

Terrorist Attacks

It seems unlikely you could ever predict the next terrorist attack unless you have all the resources of the CIA at your disposal, but with the right  “boots on the ground” assessments from Infortal, you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve done everything possible to avoid and mitigate potential domestic or international terrorism threats.

With timely alerts on specific terrorism threats as well as threat trends at your business locations worldwide, you can avoid the stress and panic that come with financial loss, increased security and insurance costs, or even the potential you could face civil liability after a terrorist attack.

You also don’t want to make an acquisition or place your business in an area with a higher risk of sabotage to your property, products or employees.  Using Infortal’s in-country investigators, who speak the native language and is familiar with the local political climate, can give you the knowledge you need well in advance to mitigate such a risk.

Should a terrorist incident occur, Infortal will advise your security and legal teams and offer crisis management support and executive protection unique to the country and/or region where the incident occurs.

You’ll even get in-depth investigations that can prevent you from unwittingly financing a terrorist organization or money laundering.

Working with Infortalwill give you the geopolitical risk information you need to make the right kinds of decisions when it comes to preparing your business for a possible terrorist incident.

 

Going Into Business With A State Owned Enterprise (SOE)

How do you know if doing business with a State Owned Enterprise (SOE) like China (with its global holding companies) is really safe?  And how do you even know what signs to look for when your access may be limited and tightly controlled?

Most often you don’t.  You’ll have fewer transaction options when dealing with SOEs, many who have outdated compliance systems, so an analysis of your sanctions exposure is nearly impossible to do on your own.  And SOEs don’t easily fit into typical due diligence programs. Legal and financial due diligence often does not identify SOE’s and is unlikely to find any hidden or undisclosed information at all.

You will constantly be challenged by the fact that SOEs often have an inherent conflict of interests, and their political importance often lead to performance and governance challenges. This can make them far less transparent and accountable, making any oversight on your part difficult.

And how will you deal with the fact that a lot of SOE’s are rampant with corruption?  Some of the biggest recent corruption scandals have involved state-owned enterprises, including one with Airbus who was fined for bribing Chinese state-owned airlines to secure profitable commercial deals.

You are also leaving yourself prone to possible IP theft as well as espionage, which can lead to

potentially crippling legal, regulatory, and reputational costs.

Our Risk Informed Geopolitics Matrix (RIG) will make sure you stick to good practices ahead of new SOE transactions, help you avoid troubling corruption issues, and keep you informed of misappropriation risks before you find yourself in trouble.

This way you’ll not only know what dangers to avoid when dealing with SOEs and where to avoid them, but also how to thrive when working with them.

 

How can war impact your business?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the perfect, tragic example of what can happen to businesses if you don’t see a war coming long before it actually arrives.  Rising prices and fuel costs, disrupted supply chains and the need to suddenly comply with sanctions can cripple your business.

What to do in the event of a Civil War is even more challenging, as you’ll quickly find your infrastructure destroyed, lose access to your suppliers, and be forced to quickly and urgently restrategize in the affected countries or regions.

The best way to avoid devastating inflationary pressures and financial loss, as well as a potential loss of life to your labor force when a war breaks out is to know in advance when and if a war might be coming in the first place. 

It may seem obvious at first glance to know where the potential for war is high or low, but the accurate indicators are usually missed or completely ignored. Infortal’s Geopolitical Risk Intelligence can alert you to any geopolitical tensions before they occur, such as the potential for war between China and Taiwan.

Combined with due diligence intelligence, you’ll already have backup plans in place for your supply chains in the event of a conflict so you can quickly shift your operational strategies in time to reduce your losses. 

And if war becomes likely or breaks out, Infortal can provide you with resources to find source buyers, partners, and/or suppliers beyond the war’s impact.  We will also analyze and evaluate potential side effects that may threaten your interests, such as sanctions and an increased threat of economic espionage.

A detailed report is provided with Executive Summary, conclusions, recommendations and complete attachments. Updates are provided: Two levels of Executive Due Diligence are available, depending on the number of components searched.

Multiple Key Executive checks may be priced at a discounted rate depending on the number of executives included, and whether international components are involved.

Please contact us for more information and pricing.

Argentina – Economic Risk
Africa – Geopolitical and Economic Risk
UAE: Opportunity and Risk
Conflict Risk: Ukraine and East Europe
Conflict Risk: Israel and the Middle East
Conflict Risk: Taiwan and East Asia
Argentina faced increases in poverty and ongoing economic crisis in 2022. Protests, the assassination attempt of Argentina’s Vice President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, corruption trials, and incidents of police brutality highlight Argentina’s socioeconomic instability. Companies operating in Argentina face heightened risks of corruption, FCPA violations, and inflation.

Argentina’s economy contracted every year since 2018, highlighting the country’s economic risk even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Argentina’s historic inflation crisis continues at a rate of 138% in 2023, with over 39% of the country living in poverty. Argentina’s risk of civil unrest is increasing, with inflation projected to continue rising into 2024.

Argentina’s upcoming presidential election highlights greater instability in Argentina for 2024. The country’s rising far-right looks set to take power in Argentina’s upcoming election, with structural reforms threatening economic predictability in the country. Should Argentina’s new government adopt the US dollar, US companies face new opportunities for investing in the country.

Companies operating in Argentina must maintain an up-to-date economic advisory, maintain robust due-diligence screenings for individuals to minimize corruption risks, and conduct regular geopolitical risk intelligence forecasting to protect assets and company interests from geopolitical shock.
In 2023, Sub-Saharan Africa is a primary source of critical minerals needed for green energy transition and represents a large emerging market. Companies operating in Africa also face unprecedented risks from corruption, terrorism, ethnic violence, human rights violations, property rights violations. As the center for geopolitical competition for minerals between Chinese state-owned enterprises and US companies, and a center for jihadist groups and Russian influence, Africa has one of the highest geopolitical risk profiles for 2023. These risks will continue in 2024.

US companies operating in Africa require careful due diligence investigations of partners, new hires, and investors, alongside close intelligence monitoring of security and geopolitical risks. Due to poor internal governance and external major powers operating in Africa’s economic arena, risks facing private Western companies are complex and multilayered. Recent operations in Africa by the Russian mercenary firm, the Wagner Group, and the recent coup in Niger highlight Africa’s condition as an ongoing conflict zone. Jihadist activity in East Africa and Nigeria, as well as high crime rates in South Africa also show internal security threats facing companies investing in the region.

Economically, companies face increased ESG risks. Mining operations and mineral extraction reliant upon forced or child labor open companies to regulatory and reputation risks. Conducting ESG-driven due diligence investigation and intelligence monitoring can mitigate risks for companies seeking to operate in Africa’s emerging market.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers one of the brightest opportunities in the Middle East for 2023. Two years after the signing of the Abraham Accords that normalized ties between the UAE and Israel, the Emirates offers a high-growth business environment central to the global energy and high-tech markets. In 2022, the UAE’s economy grew at 8%. Greater collaboration between the UAE and Israel offers emerging opportunities for companies looking to the Middle East for investment.

The recent war that was started by Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel poses geopolitical risks for the wider Middle East, including the UAE. Ties between jihadist groups operating in the region and Iran place the UAE at the center for heightened risks of both conflict and compliance violations. Sanctions violations remain a risk as terrorist groups and Iran attempt to use Emirati banks and financial institutions to finance terrorism and bypass trade restrictions. A wider regional war involving Iran also threatens Emirati growth prospects and potentially poses an existential threat to the country. Iran’s nuclear program heightens this risk.

Companies operating in the UAE require robust KYC programs in order to safeguard operations from compliance violations related to sanctions and terrorist financing. Additionally, companies seeking tax advantages of operating in the UAE should retain close consultation with financial professionals in order to avoid violations.
Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine is the single-largest driver of geopolitical risk in 2023 to date. Russia’s invasion added to inflationary pressure as countries worldwide faced increased costs from defense spending and risks from disruption of energy and food imports. Europe’s economic vulnerability for its historic reliance on Russian energy emerged as a macroeconomic risk for Europe. In the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, disruptions in food and energy imports from both Ukraine and Russia raised the risks for famine and the risk of economic collapse.

Within Europe, the risk outlook for 2023 and 2024 facing Western companies depends on the duration of the war. Europe’s ambitions to reach a full green energy transition have faltered, just as demands for increased defense spending are increasing. The Russia-Ukraine war similarly is polarizing European domestic politics over questions of expanding the European Union.

Companies operating in Europe face overlapping risks from misinformation, macroeconomic uncertainty, and inflationary pressures as the result of the Ukraine war. Should Russia make advances in Ukraine, the risk of war spreading westward in Europe raises risks of terrorism, and operating costs. Russian aggression also increases the risk of cyberattacks for European companies.
Terrorist attacks on Israel in the form of rocket attacks, kidnappings, and human rights violations are currently opening a new war in the Middle East. Unlike previous terrorist attacks, Israel’s coming incursion into the Gaza Strip to eradicate Hamas and threats of retaliation from Iran increase the risk of a regional war affecting Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the Gulf, and Iran. Iran’s nuclear program and support for terrorism are reshaping the Middle East’s risk environment.

Companies operating in the Middle East face multiple overlapping risks that include terrorism, sanctions violation, security risks, reputational risks, and macroeconomic collapse.

Operating in the Middle East in 2023 and 2024 requires companies to develop accurate and ongoing geopolitical risk monitoring and intelligence to detect risks to personnel and assets in the region. Sanctions and terrorist financing compliance violations also pose risks exposed to the Middle East but not operating there. Employing enhanced due diligence investigations alongside geopolitical risk intelligence monitoring offers companies needed information and advance time to detect and insulate themselves from risk.
Conflicts unfolding in East Europe and the Middle East involve Iran and Russia, and both countries are closely aligned with China. The risk of world war is increasing. In East Asia, the main catalyst for the region’s entry into what would become a global conflict is centered on Taiwan. China’s reopening since the Covid-19 pandemic includes a retrofitting of its economy for weapons production. China’s economic reorientation alongside ongoing violations of Taiwan’s airspace by the People’s Liberation Army are advanced warning indicators of impending war. China’s sanctioning of US companies, police raids of the offices of Western companies operating within China, and events such as China’s spy balloon over US airspace all indicate the potential for an impending war in the near future.

While war is not guaranteed, companies operating in China and Taiwan have opportunities to re-shore supply chains away from China in order to minimize losses if conflict erupts. Companies exposed to China face overlapping risks in the form of sanctions violations, corporate and economic espionage, asset confiscation, and loss of market access as latent conflict continues in 2023.
Country Risk Assessments

Are you prepared to deal with cartels in Mexico or threats to your intellectual property in China

Monitoring Corruption

What happens if you intend to do business with a company in a country like China, only to find out after the fact that bribery is simply the standard cost of conducting business?

Avoiding Criminal Charges

Did you know that your foreign investments as a company could lead you to commit an actual crime inadvertently?

Sanctions Violations

It’s one thing to familiarize yourself with major international business sanctions such as sanctions against Russia’s energy imports…

Avoiding Damage To Your Reputation

What do you do when your business is struck by a public relations crisis that’s entirely NOT your fault?

Get Ahead of ESG Risks

Whether it’s severe flooding in Thailand that disrupts your technology supply chain network…

Preventing Disruptions From Social Unrest

If your company was located in the Middle East in 2010 or 2011, you most likely had no idea the Arab Spring revolutions were coming.

Terrorist Attacks

It seems unlikely you could ever predict the next terrorist attack unless you have all the resources of the CIA at your disposal.

Going Into Business With A State Owned Enterprise (SOE)

How do you know if doing business with a State Owned Enterprise (SOE) like China (with its global holding companies) is really safe?

How can war impact your business?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the perfect, tragic example of what can happen to businesses if you don’t see a war coming long before it actually arrives.

Our team is available to assist

CLE Accredited Courses

Infortal’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses are designed to equip executives, attorneys and risk managers with strategic insights to navigate the complex landscape of geopolitical risk. We cover topics such as international sanctions, regulatory risks, corporate espionage, AML, global warfare, anti-terrorist financing and corruption.

We can help you make informed decisions and mitigate potential risks for your business.
LEARN MORE