*Downsizing on employees without compensation*
Any opportunity of downsizing on personnel without compensation paid
must be tempting to employers. In the Netherlands such a service was
offered to ICT employers in the period 2002 2003.
The method used was simple, but truly criminal.

*The Method*
1) A combination of an outplacement agency (by the name of "Cygnus")
and an associate ICT company ("Bright IT Solutions") was hired by

2) After agreement the employees, who were to be made redundant, were
contacted by Cygnus who offered new jobs with better prospects with
its associate. Bright IT claimed to have projects with customers with
outstanding name and reputation. None of them however, when later
asked, had any knowledge of Cygnus nor Bright IT.

3) After signing a contract with Bright IT (and doing so, resigning
his current position voluntarily) the offered project was cancelled
and the new employee was sacked in his probation period.

4) The original employer saved both a compensation fee and a timely
redundancy request at the Employment Exchange Office.

*The way to justice*
In may 2003 the victims of the fraud joined strength to bring the
swindlers to justice. In short time the criminal organization behind
the swindle was revealed and evidence was gathered and handed over to
the authorities. Meanwhile many articles in newspapers have been
written and even questions were raised in parliament about this fraud.

Finally, january 13th 2005, the Public Prosecutor announced the arrest
of E.P. and R.V., the prime suspects of the swindle.

According to some sources the employers involved are not subject to
criminal charges this moment, but they might in near future.
(source: AG, 28th January 2005)

*The employers involved*
Over a dozen employers have been known to use "services" of Cygnus,
some of them international operating corporations. All of them claim
to have had no knowledge of the fraud in advance. This seems most

1. E.P. (director of Cygnus) promised employers to be succesfull
within a timeframe of 2-8 weeks. Regarding the situation in 2003 this
would have been, if true, a remarkable achievement.

2. R.V. (director of Bright) is known to have ownership of sex-clubs,
This can be checked easily with the Chamber of Commerce.

3. Employers agreed with Cygnus to keep arrangements secret and
deliberately have given away private details, such as resume's, names,
addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers, without
permission nor knowledge of the employees involved.

4. Cygnus shared office in 2002 with "DATATEST", one of the first
employers to use its "services". DATATEST then introduced Cygnus to
"LYNC" and so on ...

5. One document is known in which Cygnus and "VICKSBURG" agreed to
push employees jointly to "voluntarily" resignation.

6. Cygnus was not known as a replacement bureau with official
branche-organizations. In fact: it couldn't even be found in the
Yellow Pages.

7. E.P. was pretty well known for his "reputation": he has a long
record of swindles and has been in prison before for tax fraud. Due to
privacy laws this is not known to the general public, but commercial
enterprises have different ways to check out who or what they are
dealing with. In fact, this is quite easily done with the Netherlands
Chamber of Commerce.

8. Since many former employers claim to be victims as well, they were
all invited to take legal steps together, as a joined group of both
employers and employees. They refused.
When asked to support their former employees financially in legal
steps to be taken they refused again.

*Two examples: ECONOCOM and HARVEY NASH*
Since both ECONOCOM and HARVEY NASH are international operating
corporations it is hard to imagine they were involved in these
activities as well. What's more striking, they seemed to have played
an active role in the fraud:

ECONOCOM pressed charges against its former employees in may 2004,
arguing it suffered damage of stories repeatedly written in press.
ECONOCOM blamed their former employees being the source of those
stories. But in court ECONOCOM did admit it agreed to keep
arrangements secret; that it had given away private details and that
no backgrounds were checked because E.P. looked "trustworthy". Most
striking fact however, as admitted in court: ECONOCOM did not end its
partnership with Cygnus after it received warning of two of its former
employees in december 2002. Instead it handed over 2 more employees to
Cygnus in January 2003. Both of them being fired with Bright IT the
same month.

Four employees of HARVEY NASH were contacted in January 2003 by
Cygnus. But they did some research and revealed the fraud. Evidence of
it was presented to the HARVEY NASH management, February 6th 2003.
Strangely, the HARVEY NASH management refused to take notice or to
investigate them, blamed its employees on doing background checks and
increased pressure on them to sign the contracts with Bright IT
without further delay, even when Bright IT had terminated its
Finally HARVEY NASH had to file a redundancy request at the court. In
session, april 15th 2003, HARVEY NASH claimed that Cygnus and Bright
IT were outstanding firms and by refusing to sign a (better) contract
with Bright IT the employees should be hold liable for _misconduct_.
The court was not impressed and ordered HARVEY NASH to pay its
employees a fair redundancy fee.

Both HARVEY NASH and ECONOCOM were severely reprimanded in court for
gross neglicence and dereliction of generally accepted employer
duties, for not doing of any background check on Cygnus and for
denying any signs or warnings of the real character of Cygnus and its

*Did the boards know ?*
ECONOCOM (Netherlands) and HARVEY NASH (Netherlands) work pretty
independently from their main offices, located in Paris and London.

So, one important question to be asked: did the central boards know ?
In fact they did, maybe not in advance, but through different channels
they received information about the way their foreign subdivisions
were doing business.

Then, the second question: did they act ?
One might expect a respectable organization values good name.
Therefore, some action might expected from their main offices, change
in local management, a gesture to people involved, a compensation,
whatever. But astonishing, they didn't do anything, not even a simple
apology to the people that had been working for them many years and
now handed over to a criminal organization by their own enterprise.

Then, a third question arises: Why didn't they act ?
Well, probably because their local divisions succeeded in cutting
costs by downsizing on personnel. That's the matter that counts, the
way how it is done is not important.

*The trial*
P. and V. have been arrested and are now waiting trial. But actually,
employers involved should be on trial too for their role. P an V
offered the opportunity, but the employers took it without asking any
questions, while it was obvious they were dealing with frauds. They
should have known that there are no cheap and easy solutions for
loosing employees. Their claim not to have known of the swindle is
most unlikely. If so, their managers are utterly naive and completely
unqualified for leading big corporations.

Would one be happy of being employed with a corporation that has no
respect for the people working for it ?
Is it wise being a supplier or customer of a company that might be
subject to criminal investigations ?
For me, well the answer is clear. I will most certainly not do
business with them.

*Read more*

Don't forget the media page of that website:

Tip, check this:

It's broadcasted on Netherlands t.v. (both small/broadband available)

Most of it is in Dutch, one might trying to translate with Babelfish
or any translator you like.

Here are two: