Procurement Gone Wild

On February 19, 2015, Paul Shin Devine must surrender himself to the U.S. Marshall Service and begin serving a one-year sentence on corruption charges. He has already repaied $4.5M in restitution and will be on supervised release for three years starting in February 2016.

Is Devine a crooked politician? No. A member of the mob? Not even close. Devine is a former Global Supply Manager for Apple. A procurement professional just like the readers of this blog.

The difference is that THIS procurement professional took kickbacks from suppliers in exchange for giving them access to confidential Apple information on desired pricing, specification priorities, and design details. He was arrested in August 2010 and has been free on bail since he pled guilty in March 2011.

I was captured by this story when it broke four years ago because, even though it didn’t work out so well for Devine, it demonstrates just how much damage procurement can do if we break ranks. Any function that has the information and connections to criminally damage a company as careful as Apple must be mission critical, right?

Devine was arrested following a joint FBI/IRS investigation. He was charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, 1 count of wire fraud conspiracy, 6 counts of money laundering, and 1 count of engaging in transactions with criminally derived proceeds. The wire fraud and money laundering charges were based on steps he took to conceal the source of the kickbacks he received.

In addition to forfeiting all of his ill-gotten gains, Devine was eligible for up to 20 years in prison and was supposed to be sentenced in 2011. It is a bit of a mystery as to why his sentencing took so long. As speculated in a December 8th article on, “One possible answer is that Devine was cooperating with the feds in an investigation of Apple’s Asian suppliers and their American partners.”

The ethics of any profession – or professional – can only be breached once. After that, trust will be hard, if not impossible, to regain. Most procurement professionals take their responsibilities very seriously. Devine is the exception that proves the point.

Could you ever – would you ever – share confidential company information for the possibility of personal gain? What would you do if you suspected a co-worker? How clear are the ethical guidelines that your company expects you to abide by? Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting @BuyersMeetPoint.

One Response to Procurement Gone Wild

  1. Apples Purchasing group certainly has had its issues: corruption, bankrupt suppliers, Foxconn employee issues, problems matching demand and supplier deliveries and attracting and retaining Purchasing staff.

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