A Request for the SEG to Enforce Professional Ethical Standards and Promote Transparency
By Steven Kalavity, SEG Member
History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them. ~ B. R. Ambedkar
I believe the root of all evil is abuse of power. ~ Patricia Cornwell
A little over a year ago, 11-October-2015, I published an article on Linked™, The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Should Expel Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) CEO Jon Erik Reinhardsen. I make the same plea this year, 2016. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Code of Ethics (below) outlines the behaviors required to be a member in the SEG professional community. Clearly, if the words which were published last year were without merit, then I would be in violation of this Code of Ethics. I submitted a report to the SEG Whistle Blower Hotline last year. I have submitted a report to the United Kingdom (UK) Action Fraud service. I have reported to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and I have reported to the UK Insolvency Service. And with much difficulty, I finally had received a (ridiculous) response from the PGS Compliance Team simply denying all accusations of executive corruption, fraud, and cover-up with no qualification. The PGS Compliance team had been emailed articles and several inquiries, and was even telephoned. Even though published email evidence shows a thread where executives are withholding information and lying to me out-right, this is stated to be compliant and professional business behavior according to PGS. The redacted copies of forged (alleged) documentation as used to forward a fraudulent contract are not debunked, but ignored even when evidence is included which shows that the documents could not be authentic. Therefore, I conclude that the PGS Compliance team serves to cover-up and to protect themselves, senior executives, and the board.
I had requested that the PGS Compliance and audit committee confirm the authenticity of the documents held within my professional personnel file. The article which I asked that they reference which best articulates my central claim with PGS is, The Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) Ambush Meeting and the Definition of Fraud. The PGS Compliance team only issued a blanket denial of wrong-doing with no explanation or evidence to support their response after months and several attempts to get their attention. One would think this a simple task for a well-managed and compliant organization with staffed legal, contract, and human resource professionals practicing core values. Certainly, a year is a long enough time? PGS can publish a response to the fore-mentioned article referencing any specific documents and emails supporting their actions for the entire professional community. I absolutely have no problem with this transparency. Unfortunately, PGS management and board have thus far have not felt obligated to the professional community or to its stakeholders to do this. Instead, PGS management and board prefer to remain silent and attempt to run-from or censor allegations. PGS management and board continue to blemish their professionals and PGS company reputation along with the profession itself. PGS management and board do all this so that they can escape accountability for their corrupt decisions and actions. If the PGS board and management cannot authenticate the fore-mentioned documents, then it is conclusive that the board and executives do not meet the SEG Code of Ethics standards and should be admonished and expelled from the SEG Professional organization and community. Further, it demonstrates that PGS management used forged documents to negotiate a contract as well as engaged in a defamatory professional character assassination to blacklist me from the industry and to protect top management from accountability. These (alleged) actions violate most every clause of the SEG Code of Ethics.
In my experience, the PGS Compliance team fulfills the exact opposite function of which their corporate agency confers upon them, and instead they aid, abet, and protect senior level practices of non-compliance. Therefore, it is my view (plea) that there needs to be a third-party investigation by a neutral professional body to investigate whistle blower compliance and corruption claims for the good of professionals and the market. I am asking that the SEG assemble such a body and investigate for the good of its professional members and the broader market. I have remained resolute not to abandon my effort and to pursue a remedy, as the truth and evidence is on my side. I need an officially binding venue to present my claim along with its fair analysis. I have breached the proverbial Rubicon and have at great risk once again placed my faith in a system that does not always deliver intended results. I have published several PGS focused articles since July 2015. My whistle blowing claims and questions have been written and published without ambiguity. I am certain about my allegations and have transparently presented them. Because the laws and policies breached pertain to England and Norway, and as a US citizen terminated and repatriated, it has been challenging to navigate the course toward justice without effective consideration from PGS management, compliance team or the police. PGS Compliance has no will to properly investigate themselves and Action Fraud only investigates a small percentage of reports of fraud.
Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Code of Ethics
The Bylaws of SEG, Article III, Section 2, states that “Membership of any class shall be contingent upon conformance with the established principles of professional ethics approved by the Board of Directors.”
As an elaboration of these established principles of professional ethics, the following Code of Ethics is enunciated. It shall be your duty as a geophysicist, in order to maintain the dignity of your chosen profession:
- To carry on your professional work in a spirit of fidelity to clients and employers, fairness to employees and contractors, and devotion to high ideals of personal honor.
- To treat as confidential your knowledge of the business affairs, geophysical or geological information, or technical processes of clients or employers when their interests require secrecy.
- To inform a client or employer of any business connections, interests, or affiliations which might influence your judgment or impair the disinterested quality of your services.
- To accept financial or other compensation for a particular service from one source only, except with the full knowledge and consent of all interested parties.
- To refrain from associating yourself with, or knowingly to allow the use of your name by, an enterprise of questionable character.
- To advertise only in a manner consistent with the dignity of the profession, to refrain from using any improper or questionable methods of soliciting professional work, and to decline to pay or to accept compensation for work secured by such improper or questionable methods.
- To refrain from using unfair means to win professional advancement, and to avoid injuring unfairly or maliciously, directly or indirectly, another geophysicist’s professional reputation, business, or chances of employment.
- To cooperate in building up the geophysical profession by the interchange of general information and experience with your fellow geophysicists and with students and also by contributions to the work of technical societies, schools of applied science, and the technical press.
- To interest yourself in the public welfare, and to be ready to apply your special knowledge, skill, and training in the public behalf for the use and benefit of mankind.
To me, it really seems visible today that ethics is not something exterior to the economy, which, as technical matter, could function on its own; rather, ethics is an interior principle of the economy itself, which cannot function if it does not take account of the human values of solidarity and reciprocal responsibility. ~ Pope Benedict XVI
Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. ~ Travis Bradberry
Toxic management practices, such as workplace harassment, workplace bullying and more extreme workplace mobbing are damaging to professionals and the markets which they serve. Such behaviors are also often indicators of broader enterprise corruption. At the very least, such practices are indicative of poor management and therefore non-optimal enterprise performance. Central to my issues with PGS management was the workplace bullying and workplace mobbing that infected the PGS Marine Contract Sales – Africa work-group stationed in Weybridge, England. As a foreign worker, I was the target of workplace mobbing. Workplace mobbing differs from workplace bullying in that it generally involves upper management participation. This was clearly my experience with PGS. With PGS upper management’s active involvement, the process of obstruction, lies, and manipulation to steer toward a false performance based termination began. Eliminating the target from the workplace is always the objective of workplace mobbing. Without legal documentation to support their position, PGS constructed illegal false instruments to affect the process and cover-up the mobbing, (illegal) ambush meeting, and other toxic workplace practices. These are the gist of my claims and what I have written about extensively and for which PGS has provided no answers.
Being a target of mobbing and bullying is associated with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Writing about my experience has been therapeutic for me. Workplace mobbing, bullying and harassment are all top-rated stress inducing workplace health hazards. I have written about this mobbing within, Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) Mob Values and Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) Mob Gaslighting. In fact, one of the strange benefits of this ordeal has been my gained understanding of such workplace practices and advocacy against these destructive practices which infect too many workplaces. My issue is the psychological violence and misuse of position and resources attached to these behaviors. Performance based terminations are often used inappropriately. We see this recently in the case of US Wells Fargo Bank. Historically, toxic and corrupt organizations such as Enron retaliate against whistle blowers and use bullying and mobbing tactics to do it. Bullying, termination and blacklisting to suppress alerting management of health and safety concerns, such as on Deepwater Horizon, as well as the broader UK construction industry has been revealed and written about. It is referred to as the silent epidemic. Toxic management can too easily corrupt their internal processes to maintain management’s self-interests at the expense of ethical and safety conscious workers. Workers are penalized when they use internal mechanisms to remedy such anathema behavior. In my case, I filed a formal grievance to address what I believed to be destructive management behavior. PGS bypassed and ignored the issues brought-up within my grievance and constructed and acted upon a fictional narrative which removed them from any accountability. Corrupt management structures will manipulate and obstruct fair processes. Within corrupt organizations, compliance team functions are too often relegated to cover-up wrong-doing rather than rectify it. This is why the industry should establish third a party ombudsmen (or similar) to review such claims and change the power dynamic. This is especially important for a global professional workforce where specific labor laws differ from country to country.
The system assumes enterprises can govern themselves effectively even when widely publicized stories seem to reveal that this very often is not the case. More recently, I have requested the source information provided to PGS counsel to affect the negotiation of my termination of employment. The law firm cited legal client privilege for not providing the information. How can there be legal client privilege attached to source documents? I was kept very busy during the negotiations by design and did not participate directly. If PGS’ representative legal firm, Watson Farley and Williams (WFW), was provided the same information which I was provided with from my subject access request and personnel file, then they would have had to breach their own compliance measures it seems. Don’t they authenticate documents? Neither PGS nor WFW has confirmed even who signed my termination contract on behalf of PGS Exploration UK Limited. Why not? Even this aspect was handled secretly. It costs the victim of corruption $250-$500 USD/hour to engage in a legal fishing expedition overseas with reluctant counsel while corrupt enterprises can promote their compliance team, general counsel, and enablers to safeguard themselves, as well as obfuscate and cover-up their secrets at the expense shareholders and stakeholders. Corrupt and unaccountable enterprise management can simply out-price themselves from justice. PGS has the resources to answer these queries professionally, truthfully and also quickly. Because it is assumed that enterprises govern and comply by themselves, Action Fraud/police hardly look at such employment contract frauds as I have described. Too often society overlooks the small crimes until they accumulate to become market meltdowns. The real reason that I have written about this issue is because I need help. I want – no, I need – the silence to end and for there to be accountability. If giving up on the truth is what it takes to be accepted and enfranchised within a profession and professional community, what kind of community is it really? Let SEG be a professional society that upholds its ethics and the profession to a high standard. I believe it is important to the profession.
Sometimes corruption is slowed by shedding light into what was previously shadowed. ~ Paul Wolfowitz
Mob law is the most forcible expression of an abnormal public opinion; it shows that society is rotten to the core. ~ Timothy Thomas Fortune