Back in August, I reported that Paul Shin Devine, a global supply manager for Apple, was due in court because he was “accused of accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks from half a dozen Asian suppliers of iPhone and iPod accessories.” According to Reuters (with a hat-tip to Paul Salisbury, SPSM), Devine “pleaded guilty on Monday to wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering,” will forfeit “about $2.28 million in money and property,” and “faces a maximum prison term of 20 years.”

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Sentencing is scheduled for June 6, 2011.

While his attorney characterized Devine’s criminal behavior as “a mistake,” I would have to disagree. Strongly.

A mistake would be something like a new purchasing employee accepting a branded pen from a supplier when the employee’s company had a “no gifts from suppliers” policy in its policy manual but failed to advise the employee of the policy or provide any ethics training. Getting millions of dollars in kickbacks isn’t a mistake – it is a premeditated crime of greed.

It’s pretty simple: if your procurement role results in you getting any benefits beyond those provided by your employer, you may just have crossed the ethical – or criminal – line.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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