Is proactive communication an admission of guilt?

Bank of America Tower in New York City.

Image via Wikipedia

The Bank of America (BofA) who most associate with the financial crisis and its role in the fall of several banks during 2008 have bought a number of domain names ending on “suck” and “blows”. This haven been done in order to prevent other from using the URLs if/when the company is exposed as being unethical by Wikileaks. While there is no evidence (yet) linking BofA to any mischief it does seem odd timing.

BofA was together with Citigroup the biggest buyer of subprime mortgages before the crisis hit and also some of the biggest clients at Lehman Brothers who subsequently failed and took most of the world financial institutions with them. So, there is no doubt that they will have something in their internal communication worth a closer look.

The list of URL that BofA bought included all the top people in the bank with endings like “sucks” or “blows” creating URLs that look like BrianMoynihanBlows.com and BrianTMoynihanSucks.net for the company CEO. Which would be expected if one thought there would be a eminent attack on the brand and the top employees.

Other names are less obvious like 4identitylogic.com and the like, babyordeals.com or rexel-holding.com, Barnaba Ravanne have been involved a company called Rexel that is a leading company within the distribution of electrical parts and supplies. He is also a managing director at BofA having joined after the merger with Merrill Lynch where he was involved in leveraged buyouts in Europe.

Most of the focus of unethical business behavior has been on all the scandals in the US and it will be interesting to see if there is any spillover to Europe. Of cause this is all speculation based on a fling information and could be unrelated to the business of BofA, but it does make one wonder what is going on. I’m sure that the bank knows what it actions were in 2007 to 2008 and I’m sure that they do not want full disclosure of all the information about internal communication or how they in the end managed to survive against all odds.  

Communication is a difficult thing. When companies of any sort tries to be proactive reacting on information which is not available to the public it is bound to lead to speculation. Managers and Directors around the world have been scared ever since WikiLeaks announced that they had information that could lead to the downfall of a major bank, and most responsible business managers would in a situation like that would do what it takes to protect themselves.

With the action that BofA has taken it has left an opening for speculation which needs to be closed as soon as possible. With my own short search on the internet couple with the information about the URLs has been able to construct a possible scenario or at least open a possible string of speculation into what the leaks could be about.

For companies that wants t be proactive they will need to plan ahead. They will need to know what they will need to know what their next step will be as soon as they start taking action that other might be able to follow. A plan could be to disclose why the action was taken and sharing the information that the company has that it believes it will be held accountable to.

It is not rocket science but buying so many URL and at the same time and not communicating about it in an open and credible manor just leave to much room for speculation.

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