By Cynthia Hetherington
International research requires global tools. Certainly Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn created some handy, quick-find sources for conducting due diligence, and I’d always endorse the easy way to get an answer. However, depending on the country you are reaching into for your answers, the nature of data is not always as obvious or transparent. Whether language is a barrier, or you’re up against stringent privacy laws in the EMEA countries, or the country is deliberately evasive—as many tax-shelter islands can be—company information is still required for compliance and due diligence demands.
International research has come a long way, since I began my information research career as a librarian. Back then it was all about bricks-and-mortar buildings, where we pulled books off the shelf and updated clipping services. Databases were available (searched in Boolean language) but expensive (per-minute charges—at 300-baud!). Today’s $45 report was $200+ back then. University business libraries offered access to collections that local libraries couldn’t afford.
Today, the expectation is that all information is freely available online and only one simple mouse-click away. New vendors and service providers are helping us researchers in the field meet those expectations. In this 4-part series, we review four of my favorite go-to resources: Kompass, SkyMinder, Sayari, and Bureau van Dijk.
Where to Start
Open sources are good; a finance Google search can render much info. However, many of your research needs may require specific and industry-focused resources, such as a Harvard Business School’s Bloomberg library catalog offering. I will often spend an afternoon crawling a library index such as Harvard’s just to see what is new for my investigations. Try it yourself sometime.
An especially notable resource is the Library of Congress’s Guide to Law Online, offering up one of the best international and multinational legal databases for locating information country by country.
Fortunately for us, bankers, lawyers and business professionals have a required information need, which forces the creation and maintenance of excellent information products. The products outlined in this article are resources that may not circulate as much as the international due diligence products of Dun & Bradstreet, Thomson Reuters, and LexisNexis. This week, we review Sayari.
Sayari collects and indexes millions of public records, previously unsearchable due to difficulty accessing local government databases, across dozens of languages and jurisdictions. These records cover years of corporate formations and changes, litigation, real property transactions, intellectual property filings, regulatory disclosures, commercial and trade activity, vital records registration, and associated supporting documentation.
A free search is available, if you log in to try the product. Product pricing is generally about $1,000 per month per subscriber. So, the free month becomes rather valuable to a minimal user with a specific need.
Unique and helpful from Sayari:
- One simple search box at the page top allows for searching by name, company name, or brand.
- Narrow a search by over 100 country sources, or search all.
- A clear indicator from sanctions lists from the European Union, United Nations, U.S. Consolidated Sanctions, and the U.S. Treasury Department OFAC list.
- Several search-guide tricks for complicated searches are accessible, such as naming conventions for China, Russia, and Latin America.
A targeted search on Richard Branson takes a bit of fishing. Presented first are documents from Turkey. Scroll through the results to discover Sir Branson’s UK ID number and be able to choose that to narrow down your search results. Company names are more direct, but depending on the global nature of the brand, could be overwhelming on the return. A quick search on Starbucks returned 1,800 results. When too many results occur, narrowing down by source is advisable. The translation tools are also a handy resource for interpreting foreign public records.
Are you an analyst or investigator looking for advanced training on global due diligence? If so, check out Hg’s webinar series, where you can attend live sessions and receive CEUs or watch previously recorded sessions to beef up your investigative skills.
Are you interested in working with an international company but unsure if it’s legitimate? As veteran investigators in global due diligence, Hg understands the business world and the legal and regulatory frameworks in which corporations and privately held companies operate. Our skilled analysts excel at exposing financial risks, reputational issues, criminal activity, and legal actions detrimental to your personal and business stability. Learn how our team can arm you with the data you need.
Cynthia Hetherington, MLS, MSM, CFE, CII is the founder and president of Hetherington Group, a consulting, publishing, and training firm that leads in due diligence, corporate intelligence, and cyber investigations by keeping pace with the latest security threats and assessments. She has authored three books on how to conduct investigations, is the publisher of the newsletter, Data2know: Internet and Online Intelligence, and annually trains thousands of investigators, security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies on best practices in the public and private sectors.