Source commentary—coupled with public records and open source research in English and Arabic—provided Vcheck’s client the confidence they needed to proceed with an appointment, and ensured that they were not subjecting their portfolio company to any risks, reputational or otherwise, via the new appointment.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) has been drawing workers from all over the world over the last 30 years as the number of member countries, and their business environments, has grown. Workers moving to GCC countries come from a variety of backgrounds; they range from highly skilled professionals to low-wage laborers. Many of these migrants have built substantial professional profiles for themselves, taking on senior roles at major enterprises, most of which have extensive connections to members of royal families, or ultra-high net worth merchant families with huge business interests and substantial political connections.
Clients seeking to make directorial appointments of individuals with extensive careers in the GCC, or invest in a firm led by such an individual, are advised to consider extensive due diligence to verify the individual’s bona fides, potential political connections, and involvement in adverse issues.
Due diligence in the GCC comes with its own challenges and difficulties. The region’s economic development has been dramatic, access to public records can be limited, and the media ecosystem leaves something to be desired. These limitations, along with the potential for sanctions-related issues and political exposure, make discreet source inquiries a valuable addition to any due diligence exercise conducted in the region.
A Vcheck client recently sought insight on a directorial candidate with a career spanning over 20 years across the GCC. Though they began their career and were educated outside the region, the vast majority of the candidate’s career had been spent working in the GCC.
The individual in question had an extremely strong resume, appearing to have led multiple successful initiatives at several employers before moving on to greater things. The candidate’s career had culminated in a senior role at a company closely tied to several members of the royal family of the country in which they worked. The candidate’s current firm was heavily backed by a sovereign wealth fund, and several other members of the executive team were members of the royal family.
The client requested Vcheck conduct source inquiries to understand the extent to which the candidate had personal political connections in the country, including whether the candidate had unduly benefited from such connections, either personally or professionally. Via a network of well-placed and trusted sources, Vcheck was able to gather extensive reputational commentary on the client's directorial candidate.
Sources familiar with the candidate professionally were able to verify that they were as expert and experienced as they appeared on paper. Sources lauded the candidate’s industry and technical knowledge, as well as emphasizing that they had contributed substantially to their prior employer’s success while rising to the upper echelons of the international business community in their most recent leadership role.
The confirmation of the candidate’s professional experience and capabilities was echoed by politically well-connected sources in the country, who indicated that while the candidate’s current position saw them regularly interact with government officials, the candidate had no political pull of their own, and was seen by members of the royal court as an extremely effective technocrat managing a high-value business.
These sources emphasized that, as a foreigner, the candidate’s profile among the political elite was relatively limited, and that there were no inappropriate financial or interpersonal relationships between the candidate and members of the royal family.