Late last summer, a global supply manager at Apple was charged with wire fraud, money laundering and unlawful transactions involving an alleged kickback scheme involving multiple Apple suppliers. In previous Supply Chain Matters commentary we have noted more frequency of these incidents and questioned whether confidentiality and safeguarding of corporate information has generally eroded.

Yesterday, Paul Devine, now a former Apple manager pleaded guilty to 23 counts of felony fraud and conspiracy charges in connection with this incident.  Mr. Devine admitted receiving kickbacks from six different Asia based suppliers in exchange for Apple related confidential  information. Mr. Devine further conceded that his actions cost Apple almost $2.5 million. According to news reports, the plea agreement calls for Devine to forfeit $2.28 million to the government and pay restitution to Apple. Sentencing is scheduled for June 6.

We certainly echo praise toward Apple for adhering to its zero tolerance policy regarding unethical behavior.

Unfortunately, with the advent of many other separate supply chain related incidents of individuals suspected of peddling the availability and sale of confidential information, along with suppliers and Wall Street financial types who seek such information regardless of confidentiality and IP agreements, a dark eye continues to be cast over the state of overall ethics in high tech and other industries.

Bob Ferrari