A Narrative About Workplace Mobbing and Fraud
I believe that bullying – at school or at the workplace – is a question of values. It indicates a lack of empathy, which, in the final analysis, comes down to a lack of tolerance and respect for other people. Bullying is about how we treat each other on a day-to-day basis. At its deepest, most profound level, it is about human dignity. ~ Former Norway Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik
There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. ~ Abraham Lincoln
The return on my investment from writing on LinkedIn is being heard. That is the synopsis of Dustin Mckissen’s reason for writing 200 posts on LinkedIn™ (LI). Being heard. His thoughtful prose about the value of writing and sharing on LI resonated with me. Some people have wondered about why I write and post on LI. What is my end game? Is railing against a former employer, as some of my posts do, professional? After all, LI is a network for professionals. Business is about relationships. One of the most important relationships is the employer-employee relationship. Business is about a trust and confidence that assumes that in the relationship parties will be honest and play by the rules. We conduct business with cultures that manifests products and services that solve a problem. Culture transcends the product and service because it is the culture that delivers and builds the trust. Employers and employees both have their brands. Large companies have websites and marketing teams to project their brand. Large companies also have human resources departments and managers that project the employee’s brand, whether the employee agrees or not. Unscrupulous employers will actively try to diminish the brand of employee’s whom they have intentionally harmed. They are allowed to do this through the back-channels. Such unethical behavior is patently unprofessional and true professionals need to cooperate to expose such bad behaviors and wrong-doing for the good of their professions and industry. Such information needs to be shared and heard. Workplace bullying and mobbing is epidemic and a huge health risk to workers. Workplace bullies and the companies that provide their safe harbor need to be exposed and held accountable.
My former employer is Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS). PGS senior executives continue to engage in a ruthless campaign of mobbing and bullying through the creation and retention of false instruments that are part of my professional record. It has been a coordinated and a concerted effort to protect executive wrong-doing focused around illegal and unethical workplace bullying and harassment behaviors. PGS senior executives and board audit committee members are aware of these claims and have been implored to respond responsibly. They have, thus far, chosen the irresponsible response of remaining silent. PGS has dysfunctional corporate governance inclined to cover-up non-compliance issues rather than to address them according to Code of Conduct, Core Values, or PGS policy. PGS senior management believes that they are entitled to diminish my brand through, lies, cheating, forgery, and fraud. This is the way that workplace bullies and mobs work. They enjoy, no, they are allowed, to ruin their target’s lives – or at least try. PGS senior executives believe that they are entitled to oversee an unsafe and health-harming workplace and inflict harm. It is a cooperative effort of collusion and destructive actions with an intention to ruin a career and livelihood. They may hold the purse-strings of a corrupted enterprise. However, they no longer have the authoritative power to control the ink-filled truth. The Genie is out of the bottle. The power of voice is a great equalizer. The First Amendment of the USA Constitution gives power to voice because it is the most effective weapon against the abuse of authoritative power. Abuse of authoritative power is essentially what workplace mobbing and bullying is. Workplace bullies are too often not held accountable precisely because they occupy positions where they are supposed to be held accountable. That is the responsibility that senior executives run from. Workplace bullying and mobbing negatively impacts the health, safety, quality, and productivity of every professional, industry, and market. It is in the best interest of all professionals and investors to rid every workplace of this epidemic. Targets need to be heard.
Swedish professor Heinz Leymann pioneered research into workplace mobbing in the 1980s. Leymann’s detailed case studies focused on several nurses who had committed or attempted to commit suicide due to events at the workplace. Leymann’s research also noted that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as one of the frequently misdiagnosed side-effects of mobbing and bullying. The International Labor Organization (ILO) recognizes that both workers and employers understand that psychological violence is a serious form of violence. Psychological violence includes bullying or mobbing, which is also referred to as group psychological harassment, has severe psychological and occupational consequences for targets especially. The toxic work environment also affects other workers throughout the enterprise. Mobbing is characterized by a coordinated campaign of humiliation, ridicule and criticism by more than one person. Targets of more extreme workplace mobbing account for 30% of workplace bullying incidents. However, I believe this is a too low a number. Bullying is a management and work culture problem. From a systems perspective, 85-99% of the outcome is the derivative of management of the system. Bullying must be enabled from where the authoritative power and decision-making over the processes and resources of the enterprise rests.
Mobbing is “bullying on steroids,” (as Dr. Sophie Henshaw describes). In workplace mobbing, management not only enables the workplace bullying, but actively colludes and participates in the relentless campaign of psychological terror against the powerless target (in terms of the authoritative power within the organization). Workplace bullying is either tolerated or it isn’t. Workplace bullying and mobbing requires a cooperative workplace regime, almost always inclusive of human resources agents. As most all who have read about workplace mobbing or bullying know, HR is not your friend. HR represents the interests of management and no matter how abusive if not illegal managerial practices are, the HR employees will abide by what management desires.
Targets of bullying and mobbing experience depressions, hyperactivity, compulsion, suicides, and psychosomatic illness. There is some evidence that experiences derived from these toxic work environments have an effect on the targets immune system. The target is made to feel isolated and inferior, and eventually many employees subjected to mobbing are forced to leave their organization and often the profession. Bullies and mobs want to ruin their targets. It’s their sick sport. They do not want their targets to just leave, but to be disenfranchised from their profession and professional connections. Mobbing and bullying are corrupt director and executive sanctioned acts of workplace and professional degeneracy. By all reasonable measure, directors and senior management who neglect workplace culture, bullying, and mobbing, are the real enablers and accomplices to workplace violence and sometimes murder. Such toxic environments are nowhere close to a healthy and safe workplace culture. Moreover, it is not an ethical, professional, or efficient culture to deliver high quality products and services safely and effectively to customers. This is what should be the highest priority of any legitimate enterprise that serves stakeholders responsibly.
The truth is that there is a general awareness of both the damage as well an enterprises legal liabilities held with regard to workplace mobbing, workplace bullying, and harassment. Yet, workplace bullying is known as the silent global epidemic that is experienced in every sector and type of business. The very essence of responsibility is to accept both the benefit and consequences of one’s decisions and actions. And responsibility as well as compensation rises with one’s hierarchy within the enterprise in most cases. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Why is it that too many workplace executives cannot manage responsibly with integrity, but instead abuse their positions of trust and authority? Why is workplace bullying epidemic? Directors and executives are compensated highly even when they behave irresponsibility because they are allowed to self-govern themselves. Psychological abuse is most often associated with situations of power imbalance. Similarly, corruption is the abuse of entrusted power. Mobbing involves the collusion and coordination of multiple actors. This is my experience with PGS. Several agents from the enterprise became actors in the mobbing so that upper-management could remain unaccountable. The central allegations are that defamatory and illegal false instruments are held as records within my personnel file and that these false instruments were used to force a more favorable – for the main perpetrators – (fraudulent) separation settlement contract agreement.
One would not expect a victim of rape to have to single-handedly identify, trace, catch, arrest, prosecute, convict and punish the person who raped her. Targets of bullying often find themselves doing all of these whilst those in positions of authority persistently abdicate and deny responsibility. ~ Tim Fields
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. ~ Albert Einstein
I have written extensively about this within previous LI posts. At the very least, the creation, use, and retention of these false instruments involved EVP Operations/Marine Contract, Per Arild Reksnes; EVP General Counsel, Rune Olav Pedersen; SVP HR Terje Bjølseth; SVP Marine Contract, John Greenway; Marine Contract – Africa President, Simon Cather; VP Marine Contract Sales – Africa, Edward Von Abendorff; UK HR Manager (ret.), David Nicholson; Head of Legal (UK)/Director, Carl Richards; HR Officer, Laura Haswell; Marine Contract Sales Supervisor – Africa, John Barnard; Legal Associate, Ben Kelly; HR Officer Anna Stockle; and US based HR Officer, Gareth Jones. Each one of these individuals has enough direct knowledge of events to corroborate portions of the content within the posted articles but instead have all chosen not to. PGS has presented the contents of these false instruments to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as accurate and has also misled the UK Border Agency of my legal immigration status to obtain a work visa, according to the false instruments. These are my accusations. It takes a village – a mob – to illegally terminate a perfectly competent and hard-working targeted professional. It takes a mob to allow a contract to be breached, withhold information, maintain false instruments, and then apply them in contract negotiations. The actions and cover-up has required that these actors participate in the illegal acts of conspiracy, forgery/fraud, embezzlement, and perhaps even bribery, as certain agents seem to have a special taste for this.
- An American, the UK Data Protection Act, Petroleum Geo-Services and the Tyranny of “Accurate Data” (03-Jul-2015)
- When Human Resources is Corrupt – Why it Matters in the Seismic Industry (10-Aug-2015)
- Petroleum Geo-Services CEO Jon Erik Reinhardsen Should Resign (06-Sep-2015)
- Petroleum Geo-Services CEO Jon Erik Reinhardsen Should Resign II – Evidence (20-Sep-2015)
- The SEG Should Expel PGS CEO Jon Erik Reinhardsen (11-Oct-2015)
- Workplace Bullying is an Agency Problem and Often a Crime (1-Feb-2016)
- Petroleum Geo-Services Markets and the Anonymous Executive (9-Feb-2016)
- Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) and the Veneer of Governance (8-May-2016)
- The Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) Ambush Meeting and the Definition of Fraud (24-May-2016)
There are so many variations between the (false) narrative espoused and held within PGS personal data records and the narrative presented within the detailed grievance document. Anyone who had considered both of these narratives fairly, responsibly and honestly, should have easily detected and noted, and subsequently reported on, the many differences. Certainly the individuals who chaired my grievance hearing, Reksnes and Bjølseth, should have attended to this. [Reksnes and Bjølseth are (alleged) fraudsters.] The grievance hearing report is a false instrument. It was addressed to my attention, but was never received nor reviewed by me. Not only are none of the many contrarieties highlighted in their report, the forged document references false dates and documents as well. It is a complete fabrication. Further, and perhaps most noteworthy, is that the (false) conclusion to the grievance hearing document does not even reference the my written grievance document (?). Nicholson has stated that, in fact, the grievance document is not part of my personal data record held by PGS and has been destroyed. It is my understanding that PGS/UK companies are also supposed allow for an appeal and notify the griever in writing if there were a legitimate conclusion. Of course, none of this was ever done, and therefore no personal data records delivered through the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) subject access request (SAR) was delivered. Surely, HR would want to clarify the propriety of their actions if they were indeed completed as to law and policy.
Since PGS stands by the dates affixed to the (alleged false) instruments held as my personal subject data records (alleged illegally), this would mean that these instruments were then referenced during the settlement contract negotiations. The entire settlement process was promoted by PGS and really never by me. It was rather a last resort forced by unresponsive, manipulative, and dishonest PGS agents – mobsters. I was intended on using the process of grievance, which while obstructed and delayed, was my legal right to do under contract. As an aside, according to the literature, the grievance process, as used to resolve issues of workplace mobbing, bullying, and harassment, is most always unsuitable and contaminated by management and HR manipulation. Fighting the mob is not meant to be easy or fair. I was offered a settlement agreement contract to avoid the grievance hearing (by Nicholson who was implicated), which was scheduled for the next day. Nicholson related that the PGS legal team; Pedersen, Richards, and Kelly et. al, had reviewed the grievance and drafted the settlement. (PGS gave me an offer which I could refuse. And I did.) The hearing happened as scheduled. It was during the wait for the outcome of the grievance hearing that I came across an article about workplace bullying authored by London based employment lawyer, Philip Landau, and reached out to him for advice. Landau was with the firm Landau Zeffertt Weir Solicitors LLP at the time. Landau was of course provided with my grievance document. Landau has since moved on to his own firm, Landau Law. He is still a wordsmith and writes, as well as presents on issues of employment law. While the PGS legal team had initially responded to my grievance document, an outside firm, Watson, Farley & Williams (WFG) was enlisted by PGS UK once the settlement route was decided. Landau et al. and WFG agents representing PGS would obviously know which documents were referenced and the substantive discrepancies between the two narratives. I was not directly involved with any negotiations or vetting once professional and experienced services were procured communications were by phone but mostly e-mail.
People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide. ~ Will Rogers
What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer? A bad lawyer can let a case drag out for several years. A good lawyer can make it last even longer.
When I reached Houston, Texas, January 2014, I was ready to put the past behind me and look ahead. I did not communicate with past co-workers much. I actually tried to stay involved and volunteered and attended events with the Geophysical Society of Houston as I looked for opportunities. In October 2014, I contacted Nicholson and Haswell to submit my SAR to PGS Exploration UK Limited. I contacted Landau, just so he would be aware. I also contacted Bjølseth. There was a brief acknowledgement from Landau. Bjølseth basically confirmed and approved that Nicholson et. al would address my SAR. I made it clear that I had many disagreements about my held subject data with the ICO caseworker, as well as with Nicholson and Haswell. The communications with PGS ended in late December 2014. Readers must understand that I knew immediately upon receiving my SAR data that something was awry. I did discuss things with solicitors. Lawyers are not cheap and I was in Houston, not London. The fact that there had been a settlement agreement made redress even more difficult. As mentioned, the false instruments were dated to appear that they created and acknowledged prior to the settlement. On 3-Jul-2015, I posted my first article that named names. I have continued to post articles asserting that PGS executives were assholes (re: The No-Asshole Rule), bullies, liars, cheaters, fraudsters, to name just a few. I have tweeted and commented on the PGS LI space regarding my allegations. Not a peep from PGS or anyone else. Finally, I was more recently acknowledged and submitted my issues to the PGS Compliance Hotline. The PGS Compliance Hotline agents provided a brief response. However, the response did not clarify anything. PGS has never chastised or threatened me about what I wrote. I have written and posted articles on LI describing all of this.
LI sent me a mail to help me re-connect with people who I had disconnected with. I have been experimenting with using LI applications to help stay in touch, such as birthday and job change acknowledgements. These LI applications are helpful, even if they are not completely authentic, especially as one’s network grows. So, I decided to use the application. I received one especially interesting response from Reksnes. This is perhaps the longest non-verbal exchange that I have had with him, and this includes directly following my grievance delivery. I am assuming that this real, because he really is a past connection of mine. Receiving this note from the silent executives of PGS was quite a surprise. As for Reksnes and other PGS executives, what a tragic legacy to not have anything to say and no honor to defend. So, here is our brief exchange:
My reason for writing my posts had been to get a response. These issues were all brought-up with Nicholson, Haswell, and Bjølseth off-line during the SAR process. Certain PGS executives and others have disconnected with me and I have disconnected and blocked others over time. But, PGS agents who have been named in my posts, especially, are invited to respond or comment. I have actually tried to connect/reconnect and write to them in private for this reason. It has all been very frustrating. As Reksnes and Bjølseth both signed one of the main (alleged) false instruments, I thought that Reksnes would have been more aware. What is most interesting about this exchange is that at first Reksnes is aware of my posts. But, then not really. Why? This exchange with Reksnes followed my report submission to the PGS Compliance Hotline (CH) where I explicitly requested that they authenticate documents held within my personnel file. I also referenced the 20-Sep-2015 post where portions of the received SAR content was pasted into the article. (1) I assert that Reksnes has created false instruments and has engaged in fraud. (2) I request that CH investigate. (3) CH follows procedures and determines no fraud occurred. CH procedures apparently do not include actually discussing these allegations with Reksnes. The other interesting fact is that Reksnes has had the day or so to read the articles thoroughly and has found nothing to comment on. I could sense some fear in Reksnes’ message. He should worry because without constructive communication there is no resolution.
I have now expanded my posts mailing list to be addressed to the CH contacts, the PGS board of directors audit committee members, the PGS board chairman, and lastly, UK Action Fraud. PGS remains silent. This has given me time to speculate on the full breadth of the deceit throughout PGS. They say that the apple (character) doesn’t fall far from the (corporate) tree. Francis Gugen was board chairman of PGS for the years that I worked. I have met him in passing during visits to different global offices and found him pleasant and positive. However, Gugen also sits on the board for SBM Offshore, a Dutch company, which recently settled the largest bribery scandal in Dutch history for $240 USD million. Jon Erik Reinhardsen, PGS president and CEO also sits on the board of Cameron. Both SBM Offshore and Cameron have been implicated in the Unaoil bribery scandal. Pedersen is a director for the PGS subsidiary Azimuth Limited which shows up in the Panama Papers. When one maps these associations with the additional knowledge and experience of interacting with their true character there is a mismatch. Seeing how the directors and the executive team address serious allegations of executive wrong-doing creates a mosaic where shared connections reveal true business practices. Questionable business practices, such as bribery, are simply kicked into the long-grass only out view, but accepted if it helps selfish business interests. And if the executives and directors are caught? The honest stakeholders seem to pay the penalty anyhow.
How PGS actually does business does not to match the content published within the glossy Responsibility section found on the PGS website and within their presentations. In recent quarters especially, PGS has been actively promoting investment into Azimuth Limited, a Bermuda registered company with no listed book value. PGS has sank over $93 USD million into Azimuth Limited since 2011. The majority owner of Azimuth Limited is Seacrest Capital which owns 55%. PGS executives cannot tell investors a plausible book value and ROI for Azimuth Limited. Neither can they authenticate the signatures that are signed by their EVPs and SVPs. These are the issues that should concern stakeholders, if for no other reason than the lack of understanding of value combined with transparency issues. And then there is Pedersen.
When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation. ~ Atifete Jahjaga
Three conditions are necessary for Penance: contrition, which is sorrow for sin, together with a purpose of amendment; confession of sins without any omission; and satisfaction by means of good works. ~ Thomas Aquinas
Workplace bullying in of itself is a form of corruption that allows management to misuse resources that reduces productivity along with placing the enterprise at higher risk. Management would not jump through so many hoops to avoid culpability otherwise. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) most targets of workplace bullying are competent, independent, and not subservient to the bullies. Targets are ethical and honest, as well as more technically skilled than the bullies. According to anti-bully advocate Tim Field, “bullying consists of the least competent most aggressive employee projecting their incompetence on to the least aggressive most competent employee and winning.” But, this is the bully/ies winning and not the organization winning. Management based on ego and position and not facts is high-risk. Only the bullies can tell why they chose to make me as their target. I was an outsider. A US citizen who had transferred from the data processing offices in Malaysia. I had only been in the role overseeing the quality management system for a relatively short time. But, I really was looking for the opportunity to promote PGS products and services. I had worked in the PGS centers in Lagos, Nigeria and Luanda, Angola and the opportunity in contract sales with the Africa group seemed like a good fit. My wife wanted to stay in Malaysia. I brought with me my quality management system experience with its focus on continual improvement into the business unit thinking there would be common objectives on this front. Analytically minded and a proponent of fact-based decision making, I took special interest in the risk assessment and project price modelling. I also tried to understand competitor technologies to leverage the benefits of PGS solutions. I rewrote and created reference materials for building the tender documents. In spite of whatever Von Abendorff and Cather might say, I contributed a lot. And they knew it.
I have tried not to be overly detailed about the specific issues within the work group. The long and short of it was that my boss, Von Abendorff created pricing models that were often out of left field. He’d save them in piles around his desk, I suppose to display how serious and methodical he took the process. Operations and project management risk warnings were too often ignored, pricing variables were grouped together, and his models were quite frankly difficult to comprehend. But, it was his thing – he finalized the pricing models most all of the time regardless of their fidelity. He took great pride in his finalizing. The problem that I saw was with granularity. When margins are tight, the model should be tight. It is a quality management issue, at its base. Projects would either make more than the model or make less, but there was a large swing. For one period that I analyzed the variation between the price models and completed projects was over +/-40%. Unless you are working with margins over 40%, this is pretty high risk. I am not the only person that noticed such problems. How risks were identified and actually mitigated within pricing models was not stable. And in the months before I left, there was an initiative to align the risk assessment and pricing models to reduce the variation between the project models and project actual costs. This problem is likely still an issue because the overall pricing and planning model has turned on its head a few times since mid-2014.
PGS CEO and President Jon Erik Reinhardsen has even addressed some issues with cost structures and pricing during quarterly reporting since the decline in oil prices and fleet adjustments. The business case as to why workplace bullying is so destructive to organizations is that resources which should be devoted to improving the understanding of the business environment and optimizing the way products and services are delivered is instead misspent sabotaging and marginalizing target(s) in the work group. Performance outcome is overwhelmingly the product of how processes and resources are managed. There can never be optimum outcome from a destructive and dysfunctional managed work environment. Never. When paddlers in a row boat are paddling in different directions, there is no progress and they do not win the race, unless their competition is encumbered and mismanaged in the same way, or they cheat somehow. Workplace bullying and mobbing is counter-productive and loses the enterprise money. It’s really that simple. But, the mob-interest is never about what is most beneficial for the enterprise as much as what is best for themselves. It usually means allowing themselves to not being held accountable.
Employment relationships are like most any business relationship. People expect professional business behavior underpinned by demonstrable honesty and commitment to deliver the product or service agreed. Oral agreements require a high-trust relationship. Therefore, most business relationships rely on written contracts to mitigate the uncertainties about the trustworthiness of the other party. Written legal contracts state the expectations of both parties and how negative situations will be resolved. When negotiating the terms and conditions of the contract agreement, the base starting point of the agreement must also be understood and agreed. Just like surveying an area offshore, the scope of the project is determined by stated geodetic limits, not just the spatial area. The contract is not honored if an arbitrary spatial area is surveyed. In my case, the base starting point was really the narrative as presented within my grievance document. This document essentially requested that my employer back-up their claims by accurate data. If the agreement was reached from inaccurate and fraudulent data, then nothing was ever really agreed and no settlement contract agreement was honored. The original contract was also breached. PGS destroyed the grievance or all points of disagreement. It was not even referenced within my personnel records. I cannot say with certainty at what point the unsubstantiated and fallacious narrative was introduced into my personal data record. We must go by the dates assigned. I cannot be responsible for policing every business which I encounter in a foreign country while under such duress of being a target of mobbing. All I can do against a corrupt and silent mob is shout the truth. If not for LI, it would be an echo chamber. But, because of LI, my voice is heard. LI has saved my narrative and my life story. In the end, that is all any of us really have that is truly our own; our brand and how we manage our relationships, business or other.
A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity. ~ Robert A. Heinlein
The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other. ~ Douglas MacArthur