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 Excerpt from Business Background Investigations


Cynthia Hetherington, author of Business Background Investigations


Originally published in Public Record Update, October 2007.

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4 October 2007. The following is an excerpt from Business Background Investigations, a new book scheduled for release later this month.

Researching Foreign Entities

With data on over 70 countries and two million companies, www.Kompass.com offers a very reasonably priced collection of information to obtain addresses, corporate structures, names of key figures, company turnover information, company descriptions, product names and services, trade and brand names, and location of branches. Kompass offers free searches by geographic region, company name or product, executive name, and supplies NAICS, SIC and other government-related codes.

SkyMinder, an affiliate of CRIBIS S.p.A., based in Bologna, Italy, is an incredible aggregator of other corporate business and credit reports. A complete source list for Skyminder can be located at www.skyminder.com/basic/info_sources.asp.  The source list includes a note on how often the data is updated for each of the 46 sources.

When researching a foreign company, do not neglect contacting a business-affairs correspondent in the country of the company being investigated. Prepare to have a lot of patience and time when waiting for the information to be delivered. A list of U.S. embassy locations abroad is found at usembassy.state.gov

Publicly-owned companies may be traded on foreign stock exchanges. Each exchange and country provides information on listed companies and will have its own oversight group. Two resources to find a list of foreign exchanges are:




Researching Political Activities and Donations

A fast way to locate information about the political donations by corporate executives is to go to the Federal Election Commission's Web site at www.fec.gov. Under the Campaign Finance Reports and Data tab, use the Disclosure Database search features.

Two excellent private Web sites to find political donations at the state level are: www.followthemoney.org and www.opensecrets.org.

Professional, albeit expensive, services like www.capitaliq.com from Standard & Poor's and www.boardex.com by Management Diagnostics Limited are phenomenal in their coverage of people and companies. Their analysts actually offer summarized data in their reports, much like investigators do, and biographies online.

Another service is Corporate Board Member magazine (www.boardmember.com). They maintain an extensive, proprietary database that can be used to not only search the information on the directors and officers, but also to illustrate relationships among directors and boards.

A great source for free searching is www.zoominfo.com. Keep in mind, though, that this information is being generated from other Web sites and needs to be verified.


Watch Lists From the U.S. Commerce Department

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), at www.bis.doc.gov, provides lists relevant to import or export transactions.

The purpose of the Denied Persons List (www.bis.doc.gov/dpl/Default.shtm) is to prevent the illegal export of dual-use items before they occur and to investigate and assist in the prosecution of violators of the Export Administration Regulations.

The Unverified List is a list of parties whom BIS has been unable to verify the end use in prior transactions. The Unverified List includes names and countries of foreign persons who in the past were parties to a transaction with respect to which BIS could not conduct a pre-license check (PLC) or a post-shipment verification (PSV) for reasons outside of the U.S. Government's control. Go to: www.bis.doc.gov/Enforcement/UnverifiedList/unverified_parties.html.

The Entity List (www.bis.doc.gov/Entities/Default.htm), available in PDF or ASCII text format, is a list of parties whose presence in a transaction can trigger a license requirement under the Export Administration Regulations. The list specifies the license requirements that apply to each listed party.

More About Cynthia's Book

Business Background Investigations is a 288-page "how-to" book packed full of information resources and investigative techniques. Scheduled for release Oct. 25, the book will be available at local bookstores, on Amazon, and through BRB Publications, Inc.


2007 BRB Publications, Inc. all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Cynthia Hetherington is a managing director for Aon Consulting's Corporate Investigative and Security Services Practice.


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Created: 4 October 2007
Revised: 9 May 2008 (no text revisions)
URL: https://www.virtualchase.com/articles/business_background_investigations.html

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