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.”
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.