|Christopher Hunt and Scott Scanlon|
Readers of this web site shared with us Chris Hunt and Scott Scanlon's previous background, running a similarly named Hunt-Scanlon Corp. You couldn't make this stuff up. According to a 2008 Bloomberg article:
"Whitney Group LLC, a 20-year-old recruiting firm that helped Wall Street banks hire executives, sued its former chief financial officer, claiming his financial "misappropriations'' caused the company to collapse."
"Ex-Finance Chief Jeffrey Sussman, 51, committed fraud when he advanced "millions of dollars'' without authorization over four years to Hunt-Scanlon Corp., a company that tracks the executive-search market, according to a complaint filed Sept. 25 in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Whitney also sued Hunt-Scanlon, alleging the Riverside, Connecticut-based company owes it $7 million from the money transfers.
Whitney is insolvent, unable to meet payroll obligations and plans to "wind up'' its affairs under New York's Debtor and Creditor law, according to the complaint. Whitney said it ousted Sussman on Aug. 29 based on "the substantial and unauthorized cash advances.''
"Hunt-Scanlon's Chris Hunt and Scott Scanlon were also named as defendants in the Whitney suit. Hunt declined to comment and Scanlon didn't return a call."
"Whitney alleged in the complaint that Sussman's advances were made in "small and irregular'' amounts to Hunt-Scanlon and individuals that had personal, professional and family relationships with the company."
""Sussman failed to disclose and actively concealed his misappropriations from Whitney Group until, as the company became starved for cash in August, he had no choice but to confess the indebtedness of the Hunt-Scanlon Defendants to Whitney Group was in excess of $7 million,'' according to the complaint."
"Whitney Group, which has offices in New York, London, Boston and Hong Kong, generated revenue of $30 million last year. As of August, it had a no cash balance and accounts receivable of less than $100,000 in New York, according to Sussman's complaint."What were these $7 million in payments for? Increasing Whitney's standing in Hunt-Scanlon's ranking table? PR advice?
In his 2010 judgment in Whitney Group vs. Hunt-Scanlon Corporation, Christopher W. Hunt, Scott Scanlon, Judge Charles E. Ramos the Supreme Court of the State of New York found the following facts:
"In August 2008, Whitney Group, an executive recruiting firm, discovered that beginning in 2004, its chief executive officer, defendant Jeffrey Sussman, misappropriated a total of $7 million over several years in corporate advances (the Funds) to defendants Hunt-Scanlon Corporation (Hunt-Scanlon), Scott Scanlon and Christopher W. Hunt (together, the HS Defendants), Sussman concealed the misappropriation, that was made without Whitney Group's authorization or knowledge and for no apparent legitimate business purpose, until August 2008. At the time of the filing of this action, Whitney Group is insolvent."
"Whitney Group terminated Sussman for cause and unsuccessfully attempted to recoup the funds from Hunt-Scanlon."
"In September 2008, Whitney Group commenced this action and asserted thirteen claims. The claims are for breach of fiduciary duty, and disgorgement of compensation against Sussman; aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, piercing the corporate veil, and unjust enrichment against the HS Defendants; conversion against Sussman and the HS Defendants; fraud and breach of contract against Sussman, Hunt-Scanlon and Hunt; money had and received against Scanlon..."As a result of this, both Chris Hunt and Scott Scanlon were declared bankrupt, leading to some forced asset sales.
But Hunt and Scanlon re-emerged with two new businesses: Hunt Scanlon Media and AERIS | Media Group. The industry was aghast at the time, but everybody seems to have forgotten this recent history. (And, if you read Hunt's LinkedIn profile, the old Hunt Scanlon that received $7 million in payola and the new Hunt Scanlon are the SAME business as he has been running it from "October 1988 – Present (26 years 10 months)".
In a DHR-like way (i.e. filled with hyperbole), Hunt Scanlon claim they:
- are "the most widely referenced, single source for information in the human capital sector"
- "have assembled a team of trusted, experienced reporters and editors to track who is making news and what's driving the market around the clock"
- "have one of the best management teams in the field"
- have "been defining and informing the senior talent management sector for over 25 years" (despite having been founded less than 5 years ago)
Firstly, is Hunt Scanlon's Scott Scanlon related the DHR's Sean Scanlon, the "managing director of the firm's Los Angeles office and is the global leader of DHR International’s Media & Entertainment Practice Group"?
|Scott Scanlon, Hunt Scanlon Media|
|Sean Scanlon, DHR International|
We also wonder whether Chris Hunt and Scott Scanlon's separate PR firm, AERIS | Media Group, are on DHR's payroll.
Scott Scanlon has been quoted as saying: "Basically, what we [AERIS Media Group] do is build, extend and manage corporate brands".
Chris Hunt has been quoted as saying: "We want to go in and help repackage and resell that image and remind people that this particular client is very professional."
The AERIS | Media Group web site and LinkedIn page reinforce this: "AERIS | Media Group … provides integrated marketing, public relations and communications support to companies and business professionals seeking corporate brand turnarounds and personal image campaigns. Building, managing and extending your brand - that's what we do - and we support these initiatives through well-tested brand management services focused on global, national, regional and local major media placements."
One of AERIS' services is media management & placement:
"The partners of AERIS | Media Group bring close to 25 years of proven and successful media placements for our clients. These include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune and BusinessWeek to name just a few as well as dozens of local and regional online and print media that have carried our clients' messages to tens of millions of existing and potential clients and consumers. We work closely with our clients to design well-thought-out, unique and original media and communications campaigns that meet their needs and objectives."
"As a subset of our media management services, AERIS | Media Group develops, writes and disseminates news and information through press releases to various media and Internet outlets for maximum visibility. Many of our clients release and publish news and announcements on a regular basis - AERIS | Media Group works closely with them to leverage that information. In this capacity, we identify the best media partners to position information, with a strong emphasis on the Internet and social networking outlets that syndicate news and information for high visibility impact. As an adjunct to this service we also serve the speechwriting needs of our clients. Whether communicating messages internally or outside to a wider audience, our custom speechwriting is informative, persuasive and is a significant tool in our overall communications strategy package."Doesn't quite sound like the job of independent reporters covering an industry, does it? But it does sound like the sort of service that DHR International requires. It is what is called "native advertising" or "content marketing" but these sorts of activities must be declared and it is illegal to do these where they are to do with market-sensitive information about listed stocks.
Are DHR clients of AERIS | Media Group? We emailed Scott Scanlon some time ago and asked him whether he is related to Sean Scanlon and whether he or his associates are engaged by DHR. Many days have passed and we have not received a response, suggesting Hunt Scanlon have something to hide.
We know our web site is focussed on DHR International and its improprieties - after all it is in our name. But Hunt Scanlon claim to be an industry newsletter. Scott Scanlon however has posted 12 out of 49 stories on his LinkedIn Pulse on DHR/CTP/Caldwell, and all stories are favorable to DHR. Compare this to 2 each on Korn Ferry, Spencer Stuart, Russell Reynolds and Egon Zehnder, and none on Heidricks. Is this because he is being paid by DHR to do so?
Interestingly, Hunt Scanlon have been deleting stories from their web site (and another one) related to DHR and CTPartners. Given that there are supposed SEC investigations and class action into the CTP scandal, destroying these records may have them in legal hot water, again. Hunt Scanlon have also stopped people adding new comments to stories on their web site, although their site still has a request for comments on every page.
How can you both run a PR firm and an industry newsletter? Is this not a conflict of interest? Each of Scott Scanlon and Chris Hunt neglect to disclose their roles in AERIS | Media Group on their LinkedIn profiles. Both businesses share the same contact details. This is Hoffmanitis by omission.
Often Hunt Scanlon write an article in which they quote one of their owners (usually Scott Scanlon) as an "expert"! They also quote their own ranking table of search firms, which (as previously disclosed on this web site) is grossly inaccurate when it comes to DHR International. In other words: the writer of an article quotes himself as an expert and refers to his own ranking table. When combined with owning a PR company, this is vertical integration!
Scanlon's article claims "It was just three days ago that Chicago-based DHR, the sixth largest U.S. search firm, struck a deal to acquire 17 offices and 250 employees of embattled rival CTPartners." This paragraph is filled with inaccuracies. Firstly, DHR is not the sixth largest search firm in the US. Secondly, DHR are not acquiring any offices or employees: DHR are hoping and claiming they will pick up this number of offices and employees but it not yet known whether this will happen. It is woeful journalism by Scanlon to assert as fact a company's expectation.
Pity the poor search firms that aren't aware of the Hunt Scanlon history and advertise in Hunt Scanlon publications, emails and web sites.