Polonious divests USA business

Polonious divests USA business

Polonious pty Ltd has today announced it has sold its USA case management business to Dutch Insuretech FRISS.  The deal will also see the support of Polonious’ Australian and NZ insurance customers transfer to FRISS.

 Polonious’ banking and finance, private investigator, education or government clients in Australia and Europe  will continue to be serviced and supported by Polonious.

 Polonious and FRISS have been in discussions for a number of months and last week agreed terms for the sale of both Polonious USA and the insurance customers of Polonious’ Australian and NZ business.

According to Stuart Guthrie and Alastair Steel, co-founders of Polonious, the deal is an exciting opportunity for Polonious.

 “We are very proud of the unique fully configurable case management software we have developed. It has helped many customers save on labour and fraud costs, reduce their need for IT investment and protect their brands.  This deal will enable our software to benefit many more customers around the world.

 “The deal also provides us with a significant capital injection and we are excited about the potential this gives us to  enhance our product, develop new releases, explore new opportunities and potentially expand further into and beyond the banking and finance, investigator, government and education sectors.

 “Our software has already helped many companies in a variety of sectors process investigations faster and more efficiently by combining advanced technology with full reporting capabilities and configurable user interfaces.

 “We are excited to continue this journey and keep helping businesses protect their brands by processing claims faster and more efficiently,” they said.

 The deal is expected to close in coming weeks and transition arrangements have been developed to ensure smooth transfer of operations for customers that will move over to FRISS.

 About Polonious

 Polonious is a leading provider of specialist case management systems for businesses in a wide range of industry sectors – including banking, finance, education, government and private investigators. With a unique approach to fully configurable software they have helped the businesses they support increase case through put by 38% and reduce administration costs by almost 25%. They have a full sales and support team based in Sydney Australia and will continue to service Australian and New Zealand clients from here and via their partners in the UK.

 About FRISS

 FRISS is a Dutch based Insuretech business that offers fraud, risk and compliance solutions to insurers worldwide.   They offer insurers an AI powered fraud analytics platform – an end to end service, which is now enhanced by the inclusion of the Polonious software which broadens their SIU capabilities and further optimises workflows.

 For further information please contact:

Alastair Steel, Co-founder Polonious on : 0414 656 700

Stuart Guthrie, Co-founder Polonious on: 0403 470 123

Polonious Excited to Appear at the Fraud Detection & Prevention Summit NSW

Polonious Excited to Appear at the Fraud Detection & Prevention Summit NSW

Fraud Detection & Prevention Summit NSW 2022 Banner 24th Feb 2022 at Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW

Polonious is sponsoring the Fraud Detection and Prevention Summit NSW 2022, being held at Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney on the 24th February 2022.

The Fraud Detection & Prevention Summit will bring together leaders from across Australia to discuss how to develop a Fraud Management program that identifies and stops fraud attacks quickly and accurately. It will discuss how to maximise advancements in technology in Fraud Prevention, how to embed Fraud Risk Management in company culture, and how to conduct effective investigations once Fraudulent behaviour has been identified.

Polonious will be presenting a talk on “The role of case management in supporting the future of fraud detection & prevention” as well as hosting a round table after lunch on the same topic. This talk will summarise some of the content of our upcoming tech comparison white paper, as well as adding some detail on where investigation management software fits in a wider anti-fraud program.

We’ll also be manning a booth for the day, and I’m sure you could catch us for a drink after…

Rio Tinto Report Exposes Widespread Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Racism

Rio Tinto Report Exposes Widespread Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Racism

An independent report conducted by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has exposed a damning portrait of one of Australia’s largest miners. The report, which surveyed more than 10,000 of Rio Tinto’s 45,000 employees, uncovered deeply distressing accounts of bullying, sexism, and racism.

The figures are alarming. 28 percent of women said they had been sexually harassed in the past 5 years, and 21 women reported actual or attempted rape or sexual assault in those 5 years.  

Female employees at fly-in fly-out (FIFO) worksites reported eating alone in their rooms and avoiding being out after dark to avoid harassment. They complained of poor lighting and security at these worksites. 

The women also spoke of a lack of follow-up after reporting cases of harassment, having to manage the situation themselves due to a lack of support from management and HR.

Over 48 percent of Rio Tinto’s employees said they had experienced some form of bullying. 

This bullying led to a number of these employees experiencing a loss of confidence, declining performance, anxiety and depression. The report found that instead of being punished for their behaviour, the bullies were often promoted to higher positions.

Nearly 40 percent of men who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander experienced racism in the last five years. One employee stated “I have copped racism in every single corner of this company.” Another commented, “Rio is a Caucasian-orientated company.”

Employees were discouraged from reporting these incidents due to a ‘culture of silence’ within the company. This was further compounded by the fact that the employees believed that those who engaged in these behaviours were likely to progress further through the company.

Whistleblowing mechanisms that have been in place for a long time within the company were found to not be fit for purpose. It seems that Rio Tinto simply put these mechanisms in place to tick a box, rather than building an effective system for victims to report incidents.

What Should Your Company Do?

The news of Rio Tinto’s abhorrent workplace culture highlights the fact that this kind of behaviour is prevalent in all types of companies, even those at the scale of Rio Tinto. Your company should avoid breeding such a culture not only because it will damage your company’s public image, it will also lead to declining employee productivity and higher staff turnover. 

Develop a Strong Code of Ethics and Conduct

The incidents of sexual harassment, bullying and racism at Rio Tinto occurred because of a culture against women and people of colour. A well-defined code of ethics and conduct can cultivate a culture of integrity and lead to overall positive outcomes for the company. 

But what is the difference between the two? A code of ethics governs decision-making, and a code of conduct governs actions.

Additionally, a code of ethics is broader in its nature, outlining what is acceptable for the company in terms of integrity. On the other hand, a code of conduct is more focused, instructing employees how they should act daily and in specific situations.

We can look at a case study to see how these codes can be used effectively.

IBM is a global technology company that provides hardware, software, cloud-based services and cognitive computing. Since being founded in 1911, IBM has implemented policies with a focus on inclusion and treating people with dignity and respect. This continues to this day, with the inclusion of policies reflecting genetics privacy and LGBTQIA+ equality.

IBM’s Code of Conduct is clear and extensive, covering areas such as compliance with securities and insider trading laws, respect and dignity, and antitrust and competition laws. Their values include:

  • Dedication to every clients’ success
  • Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
  • Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

In 2021, IBM was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the third year in a row. Clearly, IBM’s code of ethics and conduct have had a positive impact on the company.

For more examples of major companies’ code of conduct and ethics, check out this blog


Ensure an Effective Means of Reporting

Although Rio Tinto had a whistleblower hotline in place, it was merely a placeholder, with no real value to victims who were scared of speaking out. To avoid situations where employees are too afraid to report incidents they see or experience themselves, your business needs to implement an effective whistleblower program. 

Whistleblower hotlines should encompass a variety of communication channels. Employees can then choose the communication channel they are most comfortable reporting with, cultivating a culture of transparency and accountability. 

For example, younger employees are less likely to make a phone call to report incidents, so other means such as in-person meetings or web-based forms may be more appropriate. 

For web-based forms your company should also ensure that there is an option to remain anonymous. Given the traumatic impact of these situations, it is likely that many employees will choose to not have their identity revealed when reporting. This will further encourage employees to come forward. 

However, it is important that the whistleblower hotline can still communicate with the employee after they have made the report, to follow up during the investigation for more information, or to update them on the status of the investigation. 

With a whistleblower hotline in place, managers must make all of their employees aware of it, and encourage them to use it whenever they see or are subject to sexual harassment, bullying or racism. By promoting a culture of compliance, more employees will use the hotline, leading to more cases being investigated and a better working environment for the employees.

For more tips on how to set up an effective whistleblower hotline, have a read of this blog.

Implement a Strong Investigation System

Many employees at Rio Tinto complained that nothing was done about their cases after reporting them through the whistleblower program, particularly the women who were victims of sexual harassment. Your company needs to avoid this situation. A whistleblower policy or hotline may be the minimum required to tick off some of your compliance obligations, but if you do not follow up on reports then it will be useless when it comes to changing behaviour and protecting staff.

Investigating reports from your whistleblower hotline will deter potential offenders from committing their acts, out of fear of being caught and punished. It will also encourage more victims to report their cases as they have greater confidence that the offenders will be caught. 

Victims will at least be satisfied that something is being done about their case, rather than having to deal with the situation themselves as was what occurred at Rio Tinto. 

This system will also ensure those who have engaged in improper conduct are identified as having done so, and are appropriately dealt with. At the same time, those who have been wrongly accused of engaging in this behaviour will be cleared of any claims against them. 

Some general tips when conducting an investigation include:

  • Conduct interviews in a private, neutral place
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Ask follow up questions
  • Maintain confidentiality where possible
  • Preserve any evidence, documents, and electronic files with information relevant to the subject matter being investigated.

Further information on conducting internal investigations and how Polonious can help is available here.


Rio Tinto’s report revealed a company whose employees were subject to systemic sexual harassment, bullying and racism. The company’s workplace culture is what other companies should avoid cultivating, one which rewards its offenders and discourages its victims from speaking out. By developing a strong code of ethics and conduct, building a strong whistleblower hotline, and conducting effective investigations, your company will hopefully create a culture in which employees feel safe and motivated to work within. 


Widespread Bullying at Rio Tinto

Over 48% of Rio Tinto’s employees said they experienced some form of bullying

Internal Investigation

Rio Tinto failed to conduct investigations based on their whistleblower reports

Book a Demo Now

Learn more about how Polonious can help you.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2022, an exciting year for investigation tech

Happy New Year and welcome to 2022, an exciting year for investigation tech

From all of us at Polonious Happy New Year and welcome to 2022.

As we start a new calendar year the team is full of excitement for what we have in store for 2022 and we hope you have big plans as well.

Happy New Year: Let’s collaborate in 2022

We hope this year will bring more opportunities for the Polonious team to collaborate with our customers and partners.

Thanks to the pandemic, most organisations now can easily collaborate remotely, but we hope we will be able to collaborate more in-person this year.

With more collaboration comes better outcomes for our customers and improved product development.

As our portfolio of customers continues to diversify across insurance, banking and education we are always looking at helping customers use Polonious to meet regulatory requirements and improve their end customer service.

Time to focus on investigation tech

In another exciting development this year the team will be focusing on how to take advantage of dedicated investigation management technology for their investigation requirements.

It’s all too common to see organisations struggle with a collection of disparate (and manual) tools for their investigation information.

Managing an investigation is difficult at the best of times but having the right technology by your side makes it much more efficient and leads to be better outcomes for the business.

Stay tuned for a new report we will be releasing in the first quarter of 2022 that covers why Polonious is far superior to alternative technologies such as spread sheets and project management apps.

In 2022 we will be enabling our customers to get more use out of Polonious, which is a feature-rich application and can be configured for any number of business cases or processes – without the need for custom code.

And, as always, if customers need something added to help their business they can always let us know what’s on the wish list and we will take a look at making it happen in future product releases.

Innovate with better workflows

In yet another benefit of dedicated investigations technology is the innovation opportunity it brings.

As a start, look at your business and ask yourself if you are innovating at a pace customers have come to expect.

With better workflows and customer service you can confidently develop new products and services and drive real innovation in your industry.

Our product development roadmap for 2022 is exciting and we are constantly looking at ways to bring innovation to investigations management.

We expect this year will be a busy one for product development and the Polonious application will see enhanced features, improved usability and updated with the raft of regulatory compliance changes.

From all of us at the Polonious team we hope you have a safe and prosperous 2022 and discover the wider benefits of dedicated investigations management technology.

Yours sincerely,

Alastair Steel and Stuart Guthrie
Polonious Founders and CEOs

Workplace Bullying Update: James Hardie Industries fires CEO Jack Truong for Intimidating, Threatening Behaviour

Workplace Bullying Update: James Hardie Industries fires CEO Jack Truong for Intimidating, Threatening Behaviour

In an official statement, $23 billion ASX-listed Australian building materials giant, James Hardie Industries shocked shareholders on Friday, by announcing that they have fired chief executive Jack Truong over his “intimidating, threatening” and disrespectful behaviour towards colleagues. 

In a brief statement, Jack Truong said: “I was blindsided by the termination and unequivocally reject the assertions made by Mr Hammes and the company,” he said, referring to executive chairman Mike Hammes.

However, James Hardie Industries supported their stance by claiming that despite being given chances to improve his behavior, he did not make efforts.

Workplace bullying occurs in all industries and at all levels. All employers have a legal obligation to protect employees, whether it is from bullying by other employees, direct managers, or even the CEO. It is increasingly important for companies to be proactive in order to minimize harm and disruptions to their employees, company and themselves.

According to the Australian Government, bullying at work happens when:

  • a person or group of people repeatedly behave unreasonably towards another worker or group of workers
  • the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

​​Examples of workplace bullying include:

  • behaving aggressively towards others
  • teasing or playing practical jokes
  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
  • excluding someone from work-related events
  • unreasonable work demands.

Individuals who intimidate and humiliate staff are increasingly being held accountable, as companies, employees, and society at large are losing tolerance for workplace bullies.

This blog will cover:

  • Details of James Hardy’s CEO Sacking
  • Shifts in Corporate Accountability
  • 4 ways your company can prevent workplace bullying

Details of James Hardie CEO Jack Truong’s Sacking

Mr Truong was fired from James Hardie Industries after the company’s board hired an independent investigator to look into complaints about his “threatening and intimidating behaviour”. Executive chairman Mike Hammes told a conference call that Mr Truong’s behaviour was “intimidating” and “threatening,” and many staff planned to resign because the work environment had become overtly hostile. Workplace bullying is a significant issue, not just because of legal issues, but because it causes turnover and wider cultural issues.

According to an official report, the company conducted extensive due diligence, which included hiring external lawyers and an external consultant, to provide the opportunity for “sincere change in Mr Truong’s behaviour”. Despite being offered executive coaching, Mr Truong is accused by James Hardie’s board of failing to improve his behaviour. As a result, he was sacked and lost incentives, including unvested long-term bonuses.

The Board ultimately concluded, based on independent third-party consultant surveys and analysis, direct input from various executives, and additional information, that Mr. Truong’s conduct, while not discriminatory, extensively and materially breached the James Hardie Code of Conduct.

The Board took this action to uphold the Company’s core values, including Operating with Respect, and to maintain continuity of the management team that has been instrumental in our transformation.

The company’s core values and mission statement can be found on their official website.

Shifts in Corporate Accountability

Workplace bullying can occur between anyone in the workplace. But perhaps the most difficult situation to deal with is bullying by a boss—the very person responsible for your advancement within the company.

In Australia, employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and anti-discrimination laws. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, employees are protected from bullying and harassment under the Equality Act 2010.

Employers have a duty of care for their employees health and wellbeing whilst at work. An employer that allows bullying to occur in the workplace is not meeting this responsibility. We have compiled 8 tips to make workplace bullying investigations more effective.

However, Mr Truong’s public denial of these allegations and complaints about being ‘blindsided’ show that it is important to maintain procedural fairness in investigations, to ensure that any action taken is transparent and justifiable in the event of a dispute.

Generally, compliance with procedural fairness requires that: 

  • a thorough, confidential investigation is carried out and all relevant evidence (from any witnesses and documents) obtained
  • the subject of the complaint is given an opportunity to respond to the allegation and any evidence found
  • concrete evidence is used to substantiate any claim

Additionally, our article on Standards of Proof in Workplace Investigations can help you understand your requirements as an investigator.

James Hardie’s description of their investigation, taken at face value, shows that Jack Truong was provided with an opportunity to improve his behaviour (and, we can assume, to respond to the allegations as part of this). External parties were engaged to ensure impartiality, and they list numerous sources of evidence regarding his behaviour. Based on what has been reported it seems that, despite Mr Truong’s public statements, a fair and thorough investigation was conducted and the actions against him were justified.

4 ways your company can prevent workplace bullying 

Create anti workplace bullying policies

To ensure that employees are not discriminated against, harassed or bullied, workplaces should develop and implement workplace practices to address inappropriate workplace behaviour and respond to complaints effectively. 

The policy should describe what constitutes bullying and should communicate to your employees that this behavior will not be tolerated. Your policy should assure employees that allegations of bullying in the workplace will be promptly and thoroughly investigated with action taken as appropriate–up to and including termination of the perpetrator’s employment. Complaint procedures should be clear so that employees and managers understand expectations and the process that will result in case of an incident. Finally, make sure your policy is drafted in compliance with any applicable laws.

Conduct company-wide training

This training should teach them to recognize it in themselves as well as others. Some people may not realize that their behavior can actually be classified as bullying or harassment. In addition, many people are often witnesses to bullying but fail to report. Employees should be trained to recognize and report on these instances to foster a healthy and transparent workplace culture.

Take all reports seriously

Companies that respond professionally and immediately to allegations of workplace bullying are likely to find that their employees are more comfortable reporting bullying incidents. Of course, the more bullying is reported, investigated and, ideally, eliminated, the less bullying you’ll have to contend with in the future. Not only is investigating bullying good for company culture, morale and business success, it can help your company maintain compliance with anti-harassment laws and regulations. There are many things you can do to conduct effective internal investigations, which we have outlined here.

Promote accountability at all levels

Manager training about bullying is instrumental to eliminating bullying in the workplace for two reasons: the company communicates clearly that supervisory bullying will not be tolerated, and they typically have the greatest visibility into co-worker peer-to-peer bullying behaviors. They are often the first line when a victim or witness reports bullying. Teach managers to identify the signs of bullying and to respond appropriately to bullying concerns. Make managers accountable for enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, just as they are responsible for enforcing your anti-harassment policy. Setting up effective internal whistleblowing hotlines are a key asset in preventing internal fraud. 

How Polonious can Help

Workplace bullying doesn’t just hurt those involved. The wider workplace also feels the effects through lost productivity, increased absenteeism, poor morale, and time spent documenting, pursuing or defending claims. And while we often think about bullying as an individual or interpersonal issue, oftentimes, it is the broader environmental factors – such as poor organisational culture and a lack of leadership – which are the main drivers. 

The most effective way to stamp out bullying is to stop it before it starts. This means creating a strong, consistent approach to prevent inappropriate behaviour from escalating, and a positive, respectful work culture where bullying is not tolerated. James Hardie’s willingness to terminate a senior leader over workplace bullying issues shows a strong commitment to stamping out bullying and should be applauded.

Polonious can help in this kind of situation by ensuring that your investigation is fair and transparent, as these kinds of investigations are always contentious and especially so when involving high profile leaders. Polonious’ rigorous workflows ensure you remain procedurally fair, while detailed decision forms, reporting capabilities, and full audit trails ensure transparency and evidence to back up any disputed decisions.

James Hardie CEO Jack Truong has been terminated due to workplace bullying, with his actions described as 'intimidating' and 'threatening'.

James Hardie CEO Jack Truong has been terminated due to workplace bullying, with his actions described as ‘intimidating’ and ‘threatening’.

Workplace bullying creates significant problems with workplace culture and turnover. It should not be tolerated - whether from employees or leaders.

Workplace bullying creates significant problems with workplace culture and turnover. It should not be tolerated – whether from employees or leaders.

Book a Demo Now

Learn more about how Polonious can help you conduct fair workplace investigations today.

Polonious year in review: Farewell 2021, we look forward to seeing you in 2022

Polonious year in review: Farewell 2021, we look forward to seeing you in 2022

As 2021 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on another very different year and look ahead to the promise 2022 brings.

Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, 2021 was a busy year for the Polonious team and I’m delighted with the progress we made during the past 12 months.

Commitment to customers

Our customers always come first and this year we helped them improve their processes and drive innovation.

We saw our portfolio of customers across diverse sectors, including insurance, banking and education use Polonious to meet regulatory requirements and improve their end customer service, which is always welcome.

Another important step forward was that many customers got more use out of the product. Polonious is a feature-rich application and can be configured for any number of business cases or processes – without the need for custom code.

Please ask the team for advice on how to improve your workflow and customer service with Polonious and we’ll be more than happy to assist.

Exciting product development

As always, this year was a busy one for product development.

The Polonious application was enhanced with more features, improved usability and has kept up with the raft of regulatory compliance changes. These will be officially released in our 22.1 release early next year – stay tuned.

Need something added to help your business? Please do let us know what’s on your wish list and we will take a look at making it happen in future product releases.

More resources for investigators

In an exciting development, we’ve invested a lot more over the past 12 months to give investigators more independent resources to help them in their role.

We’ve published guides on the insurance industry code of practice changes, key metrics for special investigation units, and how Polonious compares with other technology options available to investigators.

These assets are designed to help investigators keep abreast of regulatory compliance mandates and improve the efficiency of their processes.

We also launched the new Polonious News e-mail newsletter this year, which is already seeing a great response from our customers and partners.

The monthly newsletter will deliver relevant and informative content straight to your inbox and keep you up to date with industry developments.

See you in 2022

To all our customers and partners, the Polonious team wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season and we’re looking forward to seeing you (in person!) again in 2022.

From all of us at Polonious.

Yours sincerely,

Alastair Steel and Stuart Guthrie
Polonious Founders and CEOs

See you 2021, welcome 2022
SIU Insights report 2021How do you compare to other SIUs?

Check out some interesting results from our SIU management survey. Submit below form to receive the download link and related updates going forward.

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