Don’t be a Dory, Don’t Forget to Check

Analysis

Photo shows a statue of Dory, a character from the Pixar films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, in Tokyo, Japan.

Photo by Morumotto / Shutterstock.com

Whether it is the European Union’s compromise deal over oil imports for its sixth sanction package directed at Russia following its invasion of Ukraine (page four), a survey into the digital readiness of Hungarian SMEs (page seven), or the issue of gender diversity on boards of directors (page 10), there is a lot of “meat” on the “bones” of this issue. And that is before you even get to our Special Report dedicated to the local legal market.

I generally find that what sticks with me from one edition to another can seemingly be generated quite randomly. Sometimes it is the “big issues,” sometimes the “big interviews.” There is no surprise about the latter, in particular. I got into journalism more than three decades ago because I was curious (I still rate that as the single most important trait a journalist can have) about the world in general, and people in particular. What makes them tick, what makes them successful, and what did they get wrong and learn most from?

For all that, sometimes a story simply resonates with you. This week, my favorite news item is a brief report that Hungary, which famously won’t send weapons to Ukraine, did dispatch 500 liters of communion wine. In a sense, it is a typically Hungarian story: the various governments of Viktor Orbán have worked hard to carve out a niche as defenders of the Christian faith.

The article from this issue that I keep coming back to is our piece about sanctions compliance on pages 16 and 17. There are several reasons for this, and perhaps none are obvious. It is a story related to the war in Ukraine, but it has none of the human drama of the frontline reporting, or that great six-million strong sea of displaced people, or the more than 620,000 refugees the United Nations estimates have lapped up on Hungary’s borders (according to recent official Hungarian data, only around 20,000 have applied for “temporary protection” to stay here).

What it does demonstrate are the destabilizing ripple effects the war (now mainly in the east of Ukraine and so some distance from Hungary) can have on business. Life is complicated enough without having to try and establish who the ultimate owner of a company you do business with is so you can make sure you are not inadvertently sanction-busting. You would expect to go through a due diligence process if you were buying a company, but not necessarily to vet a business partner. And yet, that is precisely what is expected.

And not only that but, as one of our early placeholder headlines for the article put it, you have to “Keep on Checking” (a phrase I can only hear in the voice of Dory, the forgetful fish from “Finding Nemo,” but perhaps that’s just me). To be more precise, here’s the quote that sums it up. I like this because, although it comes from a lawyer, it is unusually pithy and to the point.

“To wrap up, not just the business partner but also the goods and services must equally be checked. Furthermore, before you effectuate any transactions with possibly affected business partners, make sure you conduct a thorough internal verification process. Do not skip this, not even a single time. Everything must always be checked and, most importantly, constantly monitored after the fact. Never take shortcuts and keep checking.”

Robin Marshall

Editor-in-chief

This editorial was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of June 3, 2022.

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