Big Dangers from a Small Vendor
James Dugan, executive vice president of Naritomo Automotive U.S., sat in his corner office watching the endless stream of cars passing by. He never appreciated the sight before and now stared blankly at it, lost in thought. As he faced his imminent retirement, he reflected on one unfinished task — a relationship mired in deceit, duplicity and corruption. He had played the role of executive vice president, second in charge of operations, for the past two decades while an unsuspecting line of CEOs and directors of the board came and went, but those who knew him well were aware that he played a prominent role in a web of supervisory fraud and manipulation. He needed to cover his tracks one more time because his new marketing director, a numbers guy, had begun questioning the anomalous business relationship and billing practices between Naritomo Automotive and its longtime vendor Topline Performance.
Topline Performance, a small company in comparison to Naritomo Automotive, was the exclusive vendor of engine parts for Naritomo and represented its products in various shows and events; Topline was treated like family by Naritomo executives and derived all of its revenue from the auto maker through 100 percent reimbursement of its operating expenses and from the sale of its highly successful racing-engine parts. It did not take a lawyer to recognize the potential vulnerability of the “legal corporate veil” being penetrated; ...