Exploring the Alleged Connection Between Yakuza and Pepsi


Have you ever wondered if there’s more to the story behind your favorite soft drink? Could there possibly be a hidden connection between a renowned criminal organization and a global beverage giant like Pepsi? The intrigue surrounding the alleged partnership between Yakuza and Pepsi raises questions that demand a closer look.

In a world where business collaborations shape the market landscape, the idea of Yakuza, a criminal syndicate with a notorious reputation, having ties with a well-established brand like Pepsi might seem far-fetched. However, as we delve into the depths of this rumored connection, we’ll examine the origins of the speculations, evaluate their feasibility, and explore the potential implications for both parties involved.

Prepare to unravel the layers of mystery and speculation as we embark on a journey to analyze whether the whispers of Yakuza’s sponsorship by Pepsi hold any substance. What if behind the shadows of rumor and hearsay lies a truth that challenges our perceptions of corporate alliances? Join us as we navigate through history, ethics, investigative journalism, and expert insights to shed light on this captivating topic. Buckle up, as the truth might be more intriguing than fiction.

Historical Background of Yakuza and Pepsi

Nestled within the annals of history, the interwoven narratives of Yakuza and Pepsi trace a fascinating journey that spans continents and cultures. The origins and evolution of the Yakuza, Japan’s infamous criminal syndicate, provide a captivating insight into the underworld’s growth and transformation. Emerging from the shadows of feudal Japan, the Yakuza’s lineage can be traced back to the 17th century, when street merchants organized themselves to protect their businesses and communities. Over the years, this loose coalition evolved into a structured network, marked by rituals, codes of conduct, and intricate hierarchies that set them apart. From their roots as vigilante groups, Yakuza members embraced a spectrum of roles – from enforcers to brokers, from gamblers to moneylenders, each role contributing to the syndicate’s enigmatic identity.

Amidst this enigma, Pepsi’s global expansion stands as a beacon of innovation and branding prowess. Embarking on its journey in the late 19th century as a carbonated alternative to cola, Pepsi underwent a metamorphosis that propelled it from a local refreshment to a global phenomenon. The timeline of Pepsi’s expansion unfurls like a vivid tapestry, each thread connecting it to diverse cultures and markets. Driven by audacious marketing strategies and unerring foresight, Pepsi’s introduction to international markets was a game-changer. From its pioneering ventures into the Soviet Union during the Cold War to its iconic “Pepsi Challenge” campaign in the 1970s, the brand transformed marketing into an art form. By embracing cultural nuances and local flavors, Pepsi carved a niche in each new market it touched, becoming more than a beverage – a symbol of youthful exuberance and a gateway to a modern lifestyle.

The synergy between Yakuza and Pepsi might seem improbable at first glance, yet their historical trajectories reveal intriguing juxtapositions. As Yakuza etched its name in the annals of organized crime, Pepsi traversed the globe, embedding itself in the hearts of consumers across diverse societies. While Yakuza operated within shadows, its evolution paralleled Pepsi’s expansion, demonstrating how parallel narratives can unfold in seemingly disparate domains. The evolution of Yakuza and the global odyssey of Pepsi, though vastly distinct, serve as testament to the transformative power of time, culture, and strategy.

This dynamic journey, peppered with tales of Yakuza’s rise and Pepsi’s global conquest, also underscores the intricate dance between local and global influences. Yakuza’s historical roots reflect the socio-political climate of Japan, while Pepsi’s international success is a testament to its ability to tailor its brand to resonate with distinct cultural sensibilities. This interplay between the local and the global encapsulates the essence of modern business strategies, where brands strive to retain authenticity while catering to diverse markets.

In the ever-evolving landscape of history and commerce, the parallel trajectories of Yakuza and Pepsi captivate our imagination, reminding us of the multifaceted stories that shape our world. As we delve deeper into their historical background, we’re reminded that beyond the surface, there exists a web of connections that speak to the intricate tapestry of human endeavors. The story of Yakuza and Pepsi, though vastly different, share the common thread of transformation and adaptation. It serves as a reminder that in the grand tapestry of history, even the most unlikely pairings can reveal unexpected insights about the world we inhabit.

Ultimately, the histories of Yakuza and Pepsi weave together in a complex dance of growth, change, and cultural interplay. Through their stories, we gain a richer understanding of the profound impact that history, culture, and innovation can have on shaping the trajectories of organizations – whether they are criminal syndicates or global beverage giants.

The Unlikely Partnership

Amidst the currents of speculation and intrigue, the prospect of an unlikely alliance between the Yakuza and Pepsi emerges as a narrative that both captivates and perplexes. Like whispers in the wind, the rumors linking these two seemingly disparate entities have circulated, raising eyebrows and stirring questions. The sources of these rumors, an amalgamation of hearsay and conjecture, have woven a tantalizing tapestry that begs closer examination.

Delving into the realm of conjecture, we encounter a tapestry woven from threads of unverified tales. The rumors swirling around a Yakuza-Pepsi connection are both beguiling and confounding, tempting our curiosity to wander into the realm of the improbable. It is within this domain of speculation that we contemplate the motives behind the propagation of these tales. Whispers of such an association often find their origins in the enigmatic corners of the internet, their evolution nurtured by the peculiar intersection of urban legends and modern folklore. The power of these rumors lies in their ability to evoke wonder, a desire to unravel the truth behind a tantalizing partnership that seemingly defies reason.

Venturing beyond the realms of rumor, we enter the realm of business pragmatism. The notion of a collaboration between an internationally recognized beverage giant and a clandestine criminal organization raises eyebrows and arches skepticism-laden brows. From a business perspective, the partnership appears to be perched upon a precipice of implausibility. The Yakuza, an entity with a reputation that thrives in the shadows, seems an unlikely contender for a legitimate partnership. Analyzing the feasibility of such an arrangement reveals the intricate web of practical challenges and ethical dilemmas that arise. As we scrutinize the potential benefits and drawbacks for both parties, contrasting narratives emerge.

On one hand, the Yakuza’s shadowy network could offer an avenue for localized influence, enabling Pepsi to navigate the complex tapestry of regional markets. The criminal syndicate’s intricate connections could serve as a clandestine bridge to markets otherwise untouched. However, the shadow of criminal association casts a long and dark shadow, tainting the reputation of any entity willing to be bedfellows with organized crime. The potential fallout, including public backlash and regulatory repercussions, is a looming specter that casts doubt on the sustainability of such a partnership.

In this tale of contrasts and conjectures, we find ourselves at the intersection of business strategy and audacious speculation. As we navigate through the labyrinthine narrative of whispers and business feasibility, we are reminded that the realm of possibility is as diverse as it is enigmatic. In this enigmatic terrain, the unlikely partnership between the Yakuza and Pepsi stands as a testament to the human inclination to uncover secrets, to draw connections where none might exist, and to contemplate the unexplored contours of possibility.

In a world where narratives can be shaped by rumor and where the boundaries of reality can be stretched by audacious tales, the intersection of Yakuza and Pepsi beckons us to ponder the interplay between the implausible and the conceivable. The rumors, while unverified and often sensationalized, remind us of the power of human imagination to weave narratives that captivate and intrigue. And as the shadows of speculation continue to dance, the allure of the unlikely partnership persists, drawing us further into a world where the boundaries of possibility are stretched by the enigmatic forces of rumor and the intriguing tapestry of business strategy.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics

Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics
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In the intricate dance of corporate social responsibility and ethics, the potential affiliation between Pepsi and the Yakuza casts a glaring spotlight on the intersection of reputation, values, and business decisions. Delving into the depths of Yakuza’s reputation and corporate image, we unravel a narrative fraught with criminal associations and societal perceptions. The Yakuza, historically marred by its involvement in criminal activities, has garnered a reputation that casts a long shadow over its interactions. As whispers of a possible partnership with Pepsi echo, the implications for the beverage giant’s reputation reverberate across the corporate landscape.

Examining Yakuza’s criminal associations reveals a legacy marked by organized crime, illicit activities, and connections to the underworld. While the Yakuza has maintained a certain mystique, its involvement in activities ranging from extortion to human trafficking has contributed to a decidedly unfavorable public perception. This perception, rooted in reality, has the potential to tarnish any association that Pepsi might forge. The shadow of Yakuza’s criminal reputation looms large, evoking questions about the alignment of corporate values and the potential impact on consumers’ trust.

As the discourse shifts toward the ethical implications of such a partnership, we navigate treacherous waters, where business choices intersect with societal norms. The exploration of ethical concerns surrounding an alliance with an organization like the Yakuza delves into uncharted territory. Partnerships, like mirrors, reflect the values and principles that organizations uphold. The prospect of Pepsi being associated with an entity synonymous with criminal activities raises not only eyebrows but also probing questions about the moral compass that guides corporate decisions. This ethical dilemma is amplified by the comparative lens through which other controversial corporate partnerships are viewed. It is here that we recognize the need to navigate the intricate landscape of values, accountability, and social responsibility.

In the realm of business, ethical considerations are not confined to internal deliberations; they extend to the court of public opinion. As we contemplate the implications of Yakuza sponsorship on Pepsi’s reputation, the potential consequences are as vast as they are profound. In a world where consumers demand transparency and ethical practices, the decision to affiliate with an entity known for criminal associations is a delicate balancing act. The potential benefits of a partnership, such as localized influence and market access, stand juxtaposed against the potential backlash that could be triggered by perceived associations with wrongdoing.

To grapple with these ethical challenges, businesses often draw from the pages of history, where past controversies serve as guideposts for navigating present dilemmas. The echoes of other contentious corporate partnerships reverberate, offering lessons in the perils of neglecting societal sensitivities. As we peer into the annals of business history, we recognize the fragility of corporate reputation and the fine line that separates success from scrutiny.

In this intricate web of reputation, values, and ethics, the Yakuza-Pepsi saga underscores the multifaceted nature of business decision-making. While the alliance might seem implausible at first glance, it illuminates the complex dance between corporate aspirations and societal expectations. As we continue to dissect the ethical dimensions of such a prospect, we unearth the moral compass that guides organizations through uncharted waters. The Yakuza’s history and the ethical dilemmas it presents serve as a mirror reflecting the myriad facets of business – from aspirations and accountability to the intricate tapestry of values that shape the contours of the corporate world.

Investigative Insights

Investigative Insights
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As the tendrils of curiosity extend into the depths of the Yakuza-Pepsi connection, the realm of investigative insights beckons, offering a window into the meticulous processes that underlie fact-finding and truth-seeking. At the forefront of this exploration lies investigative journalism, a vanguard of uncovering the veracity of whispers and unraveling the threads of speculation. An overview of these meticulous endeavors paints a picture of diligence, rigor, and the pursuit of accuracy. Journalists, armed with tenacity and a commitment to unraveling the truth, undertake a journey to validate or debunk the Yakuza-Pepsi connection. They traverse the digital landscapes, traverse the digital landscapes, scrutinizing online forums, archived records, and official statements to piece together a narrative that transcends conjecture.

In this pursuit of authenticity, analysis becomes the cornerstone. Credible sources and journalistic findings take center stage, forming the building blocks of investigative reporting. As journalists sift through a plethora of information, a process of critical evaluation unfolds. Each source is weighed against a litmus test of credibility, relevance, and verifiability. This analytical lens extends beyond the information itself, delving into the intentions and biases that might underpin the narrative. The result is a mosaic of insights, a tapestry woven from firsthand accounts, expert opinions, and the digital breadcrumbs left behind in the wake of whispers and speculations.

Beyond the realm of journalism, the discussion meanders into the uncharted territory of business and criminal networks, where plausibility and potentiality intertwine. The likelihood of a legitimate business such as Pepsi forming an alliance with a criminal organization like the Yakuza stands as a focal point of intrigue. The dance between lawful commerce and illicit undertakings gives rise to a narrative where contrasts blur and the boundaries of possibility are stretched. The question at the heart of this exploration is whether a corporation built on principles of ethics and accountability would entertain the prospect of collaboration with an entity synonymous with criminal activities.

Experts’ opinions serve as guideposts, shedding light on the feasibility of such a partnership. In the corridors of business analysis, seasoned voices articulate insights that ripple through the discourse. The feasibility, they suggest, hinges not only on the potential benefits but also on the risks that accompany such an association. Business networks, with their intricate dynamics, pivot around reputation, market standing, and investor sentiment. The very prospect of a collaboration with a criminal organization like the Yakuza, regardless of the alleged benefits, has the potential to send shockwaves through these networks.

As we delve into the world of investigative insights, the threads of fact and fiction become intertwined, forming a complex tapestry that challenges our perceptions and deepens our understanding. Investigative journalism acts as a sentinel, ensuring that narratives are built on foundations of truth rather than conjecture. The scrutiny of credible sources and journalistic findings unveils a mosaic of perspectives, each a fragment contributing to the greater narrative. And within the realm of business and criminal networks, the boundaries of plausibility and ethics become fluid, prompting us to ponder the intricate dance between corporate aspirations and societal norms.

In the end, the exploration of investigative insights takes us on a journey marked by curiosity, diligence, and a commitment to unraveling the complex web of rumors and possibilities. As the discourse unfolds, we’re reminded of the power of journalism to shape our understanding, and the significance of expert opinions in guiding our perspectives. With each revelation, the Yakuza-Pepsi connection transcends the realm of speculation, weaving a narrative that is as intricate as it is captivating. In this realm of inquiry, the pursuit of truth takes center stage, reminding us that amidst the cacophony of conjecture, there exists a path to clarity and understanding, one paved by investigative insights and an unrelenting commitment to uncovering the authentic story that lies beneath the surface.

The Power of Branding and Perception

Within the intricate tapestry of corporate dynamics, the power of branding and perception emerges as an indomitable force that shapes consumer choices, market image, and the very essence of business success. The phenomenon of brand associations underscores the subtle yet profound impact that a brand’s affiliations can have on consumer decisions and perceptions. When contemplating the potential effects of Yakuza-related associations on Pepsi’s market image, we enter a realm where reputation and values collide, forging a narrative that transcends mere products and infiltrates the realm of ideology.

Brand associations are woven into the fabric of consumer choices, influencing decisions that often extend beyond the functional attributes of a product. Consumers are drawn to brands that resonate with their beliefs, aspirations, and values, seeking an emotional connection that transcends the transactional nature of commerce. The potential consequences of Yakuza-related associations for Pepsi’s market image are profound, as the alignment of a global beverage giant with an entity known for criminal activities introduces a dissonance that disrupts this emotional connection. The impact goes beyond mere headlines, resonating with consumer sentiment and potentially eroding the trust that sustains brand loyalty.

Amidst the nuances of brand perception lies the realm of crisis management strategies, where corporations navigate the treacherous waters of controversy, seeking to mitigate damage and salvage their hard-earned reputation. The strategies employed in addressing and managing controversies become a canvas on which a brand’s integrity is painted. In the hypothetical scenario where the Yakuza-Pepsi rumors hold a grain of truth, the question arises: How would Pepsi respond? Speculating on possible strategies, we delve into a landscape where transparency, accountability, and communication become the cornerstones of corporate action.

Transparency, a principle held dear by modern businesses, could manifest as the first line of defense. Acknowledging the situation, addressing concerns head-on, and outlining measures to rectify the situation could serve as a strategy to rebuild trust. Engaging with stakeholders through multiple channels, including social media, press releases, and public statements, could signal a commitment to open dialogue and accountability. Additionally, collaborating with independent investigative bodies to substantiate claims and shed light on the veracity of the rumors could lend credibility to Pepsi’s response.

Furthermore, ethical considerations could underscore the strategic response. A commitment to reevaluating partnerships and affiliations, coupled with a clear stance on criminal associations, could help the brand distance itself from any unsavory alliances. Demonstrating that ethical values guide decisions resonates with consumers who value integrity and responsibility in the businesses they support.

As the narrative of the Yakuza-Pepsi connection unravels, the interplay between branding and perception emerges as a pivotal chapter in the saga of modern commerce. The power of brand associations to mold consumer choices and influence market image becomes evident, underscoring the delicate dance that brands perform in their quest for relevance and resonance. Within this dance, crisis management strategies serve as a litmus test, showcasing the true mettle of a brand when faced with the storm of controversy. The hypothetical scenario involving Yakuza-related associations invites us to ponder the myriad strategies that corporations might employ to navigate these tumultuous waters, all the while reminding us that the stories behind brands are not just narratives of products and services but complex tales of values, perception, and the ever-evolving dance between business and society.

Case Studies and Examples

In the vast canvas of business decisions and alliances, case studies and examples serve as illuminating vignettes that shed light on the intricate dance between reputation, values, and partnerships. The examination of past controversial collaborations unfurls a tapestry of historical instances where companies have ventured into partnerships with entities considered unconventional or questionable. Learning from the outcomes of these partnerships becomes a treasure trove of insights that guide modern businesses in navigating the complexities of affiliation and reputation.

Historical footprints paint a vivid picture of corporate partnerships that have stirred controversy, challenging norms and perceptions. From tobacco companies collaborating with sporting events to tech giants partnering with authoritarian regimes, these instances have reverberated beyond boardrooms, leaving lasting imprints on consumer perception and market dynamics. The outcomes of these collaborations, often punctuated by public backlash, regulatory scrutiny, and reputational damage, underscore the far-reaching consequences of affiliations that deviate from societal expectations.

Drawing lessons from these historical forays, businesses stand at a crossroads of choices, where values and pragmatism intersect. The past serves as both a cautionary tale and a beacon of insight, reminding decision-makers that the shadow of controversial partnerships looms large and that the consequences extend far beyond the immediate gains. As companies weigh the allure of unconventional alliances against the potential fallout, they are compelled to tread with caution, considering the intricate web of stakeholder sentiment and the long-term repercussions on brand loyalty.

Parallel industries offer an intriguing lens through which we can further dissect the dynamics of unconventional affiliations. Instances in other sectors where legitimate businesses might align with unconventional entities, similar to the hypothetical Yakuza-Pepsi connection, provide a fresh perspective. In the automotive industry, for instance, partnerships between luxury car manufacturers and environmentally questionable practices prompt us to contemplate the tensions between opulence and sustainability. Likewise, fashion brands collaborating with entities linked to labor exploitation raise questions about the alignment of values and image.

Across these examples, a common thread emerges – the complex interplay between business imperatives, societal values, and market image. The parallel industries serve as mirrors reflecting the intricacies that brands navigate when forging affiliations. They remind us that the choices businesses make resonate not just within their industry but across broader societal narratives. The narratives of past controversial collaborations and parallel industry examples intersect, unveiling the layers of influence that unconventional affiliations wield in shaping perceptions and decisions.

In the intricate web of case studies and examples, we encounter narratives that transcend industries and epochs, illustrating the timeless struggle between pragmatism and values. These vignettes underscore the power of choices, the significance of reputation, and the intricate dance that businesses perform to align themselves with societal expectations. As we contemplate the nuances of past collaborations and parallel industry instances, we recognize that the realm of partnerships is a reflection of our values, aspirations, and the ever-evolving landscape of commerce.

Expert Insights and Counterarguments

In the realm of expert insights and counterarguments, the narratives surrounding the alleged Yakuza-Pepsi sponsorship converge and diverge, offering a multifaceted perspective on the plausibility, practicality, and alternate explanations that envelop this intriguing connection. Criminology experts, steeped in the intricacies of criminal networks, contribute insights that illuminate the feasibility of such a partnership. Their opinions, grounded in an understanding of criminal dynamics and affiliations, add layers of nuance to the discourse. Simultaneously, the opinions of business analysts, well-versed in the complexities of corporate strategies and market dynamics, weave a narrative that probes the practical implications of such an alliance.

Criminology experts, perched at the intersection of criminal behavior and organizational affiliations, offer insights that bridge the gap between speculation and reality. As we delve into the hypothetical Yakuza-Pepsi connection, their opinions traverse the spectrum of plausibility. On one end, some assert that criminal organizations like the Yakuza historically engage in a wide array of activities, from illegal enterprises to legitimate businesses, making the sponsorship narrative a conceivable albeit risky proposition. On the other end, skeptics cast doubt, citing the Yakuza’s inherent clandestine nature, suggesting that a global brand like Pepsi might be wary of affiliations that could tarnish its market image.

In parallel, business analysts lend their expertise to dissect the practical implications of a Yakuza-Pepsi partnership. Rooted in the intricacies of corporate strategies, market dynamics, and consumer sentiment, their opinions traverse the landscape of pragmatic considerations. Some assert that the potential benefits of a criminal association are overshadowed by the risks, encompassing brand damage, legal ramifications, and consumer boycotts. Others opine that in an era marked by heightened social awareness, brands must navigate the delicate balance between innovation and reputation preservation. The sentiment emerges that while unconventional affiliations might captivate attention momentarily, the long-term consequences could outweigh any fleeting gains.

Amidst these expert insights, the arena of alternate explanations unfolds, offering a canvas where the origin of rumors is scrutinized and alternate affiliations explored. Speculation gives rise to the possibility that misconceptions, misinformation, or even deliberate manipulation could have fueled the Yakuza-Pepsi connection. This realm invites us to consider the broader landscape of affiliations that could be misconstrued as sponsorships. Industries often harbor intricate alliances that, at a glance, might be mistaken for something they are not. The ambiguity surrounding certain partnerships serves as a reminder that perceptions can be deceiving, underscoring the importance of discernment and critical evaluation.

As we navigate the sea of expert insights and counterarguments, we are reminded that the world of affiliations and partnerships is rarely monochromatic. Instead, it paints a rich tapestry of possibilities, challenges, and intricacies. Criminology experts and business analysts offer glimpses into the realms of criminal dynamics and corporate strategies, shedding light on the plausible, the practical, and the prudent. Amidst these voices, the exploration of alternate explanations prompts us to exercise discernment, to question assumptions, and to recognize that the narratives we weave are shaped by the interplay of expertise and perception. In the end, the mosaic of expert opinions and counterarguments invites us to contemplate not only the specific Yakuza-Pepsi connection but also the broader interplay between business, society, and the intricate dance of affiliations that defines our world.

Key takeaway

The connection between Yakuza and Pepsi serves as a testament to the power of rumor in shaping perceptions, both in terms of speculation and intrigue. As we near the end of our investigation, it is clear that while the idea of such an affiliation captures imaginations, the reality is not.

We’ve covered the history of the rumors, examined the feasibility of such a partnership, and considered the ethical implications of such an alliance throughout our journey. We’ve been able to broaden our understanding of the complex nature of corporate affiliations through our research into brand associations, crisis management strategies, and comparable cases.

Despite the fact that the alleged link between Yakuza and Pepsi remains a source of fascination, there is little concrete evidence and little evidence of the practical challenges of a partnership between a legitimate corporation and a criminal organization. Consumers are reminded of the value of brand perception as well as the possibility of false rumors becoming a reality.

As we move on, our investigation has elicited both fascination and fascination from the mystery it created. The lesson here is clear: perception is a powerful force, and the truth can often be more interesting than fiction; the truth behind this particular rumor may be difficult to come by, but the larger lesson is clear: perception is a powerful force. We can learn a lot about our understanding of corporations and society from the Yakuza-Pepsi connection, whether real or imagined.

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Coaching and Mentoring Skills: Guiding Growth and


In today’s rapidly evolving world, where individuals and organizations are constantly seeking to adapt and excel, coaching and mentoring have emerged as indispensable tools for personal and professional growth. These practices provide a dynamic framework for individuals to harness their potential and achieve remarkable results. In this article, we delve into the essential coaching and mentoring skills that facilitate effective guidance, fostering growth and development.

Understanding Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring are distinct yet interrelated approaches aimed at guiding individuals towards achieving their goals. Coaching primarily focuses on skill development, performance enhancement, and goal attainment. On the other hand, mentoring encompasses a broader scope, incorporating not only skill enhancement but also personal and professional development through a transfer of wisdom and experience.

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Essential Skills for Effective Coaching and Mentoring

  • Active Listening: At the core of coaching and mentoring lies active listening – the skill of hearing not only the words spoken but also grasping the underlying emotions and motivations. By carefully listening, coaches and mentors gain insights into their mentees’ perspectives, enabling them to tailor their guidance effectively.
  • Empathy and Understanding: Both coaches and mentors must cultivate empathy to connect with their mentees or protégés on a deeper level. Understanding the mentees’ challenges, fears, and aspirations fosters a safe and supportive environment, encouraging open communication and trust.
  • Effective Communication: Clear and concise communication is pivotal in conveying ideas, setting expectations, and providing constructive feedback. Coaches and mentors must be adept at articulating thoughts in a manner that resonates with the mentee’s learning style and background.
  • Goal Setting and Planning: Helping mentees define and structure their goals is a fundamental aspect of coaching and mentoring. By collaboratively setting achievable milestones, coaches and mentors provide a roadmap that keeps the mentees motivated and on track.
  • Feedback and Reflection: Constructive feedback is an invaluable tool for growth. Coaches and mentors should deliver feedback in a way that highlights strengths and suggests areas for improvement. Encouraging self-reflection empowers mentees to identify their own developmental areas.
  • Adaptability and Flexibility: Each individual is unique, and their needs vary. Effective coaches and mentors remain adaptable, tailoring their approaches to suit the mentee’s personality, learning pace, and preferences.
  • Positivity and Encouragement: Fostering a positive and encouraging atmosphere motivates mentees to overcome challenges. Celebrating even small victories boosts their confidence and sustains their enthusiasm for development.
  • Conflict Resolution: In the journey of growth, conflicts and setbacks are inevitable. Coaches and mentors should equip themselves with conflict resolution skills to guide mentees through tough situations, helping them learn and grow from adversity.

Benefits of Coaching and Mentoring

  • Skill Enhancement: Coaching and mentoring provide a platform for mentees to refine their skills, whether technical, interpersonal, or leadership-oriented. Regular guidance accelerates the learning process, propelling them towards excellence.
  • Increased Confidence: Through constant support and affirmation, mentees develop higher self-confidence. They begin to recognize their strengths, which empowers them to take on new challenges with conviction.
  • Personalized Learning: Unlike traditional classroom settings, coaching and mentoring offer personalized learning experiences. Mentees receive targeted guidance that addresses their unique needs, resulting in efficient and relevant learning.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Mentoring, in particular, facilitates the transfer of valuable knowledge, experiences, and insights from seasoned professionals to the next generation. This preserves wisdom and contributes to the growth of industries and professions.
  • Improved Decision-Making: Guided by experienced coaches or mentors, individuals develop improved decision-making skills. They learn to analyze situations from different angles and make informed choices that align with their goals.
  • Enhanced Networking: Mentoring relationships often open doors to valuable networks and connections. Mentees can tap into their mentors’ professional circles, creating opportunities for collaboration and growth.

Coaching and mentoring skills form a cornerstone in the architecture of personal and professional development. By mastering the art of active listening, effective communication, empathy, and adaptability, coaches and mentors play a pivotal role in guiding individuals towards achieving their full potential. The benefits, ranging from skill enhancement to improved confidence and decision-making, underline the significance of these practices in today’s fast-paced world. As the landscape of industries continues to evolve, the guidance provided by skilled coaches and mentors will remain essential in shaping the leaders and achievers of tomorrow.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Leadership Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Q: What is the significance of Leadership Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Leadership Ethics and CSR are essential for fostering responsible and sustainable business practices. They ensure that leaders prioritize ethical decision-making and consider the impact of their actions on society and the environment.

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Q: What is Ethical Leadership?
Ethical leadership involves making decisions based on principles that emphasize honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect for individuals and communities. Ethical leaders serve as role models and promote a culture of ethical behaviourbehavior within their organizations.

Q: How does Ethical Leadership contribute to the success of an organization?
Ethical leadership enhances employee morale, trust, and loyalty. It helps organizations build a positive reputation, attract talented individuals, and foster strong stakeholder relationships, ultimately leading to long-term success.

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Disclaimer: This content was authored by the content team of ET Spotlight team. The news and editorial staff of ET had no role in the creation of this article.

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Kristian Winfield: Team USA falls to Germany in FIBA World


Team USA couldn’t get rebounds, couldn’t get stops, and in the end — couldn’t get to the FIBA World Cup gold medal game.

The Americans fell short in the semifinal with a 113-111 loss to a German national team that pummeled Team USA on the glass, in the paint and from behind the 3-point line.

Copyright 2023 Tribune Content Agency.

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Leadership Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility:


In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of business, the role of leaders goes beyond profit-making and strategic decision-making. Today, ethical leadership and corporate social responsibility (CSR) have become critical components of organizational success. Ethical leadership not only shapes the character of a company but also influences its long-term impact on society and the environment. In this article, we delve into the intertwined concepts of leadership ethics and corporate social responsibility, highlighting the importance of ethical leadership in driving positive impact and sustainable growth.

Defining Ethical Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility

Ethical leadership involves making decisions that are not only guided by financial interests but also by moral principles and values. It entails taking responsibility for one’s actions, considering the welfare of stakeholders, and adhering to a higher standard of conduct. Ethical leaders demonstrate honesty, integrity, and transparency in their interactions, inspiring trust and respect among their team members and stakeholders.

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IIM Lucknow IIML Senior Leadership Programme Visit
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On the other hand, corporate social responsibility refers to an organization’s commitment to contribute to societal and environmental well-being beyond its profit-seeking objectives. This involves engaging in activities that promote positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes. CSR initiatives can range from philanthropy and community engagement to sustainable business practices and environmental conservation efforts.

The Interplay Between Ethical Leadership and CSR

Ethical leadership and CSR are intertwined concepts that complement and reinforce each other. Ethical leaders are more likely to prioritize CSR initiatives because they understand that their decisions have far-reaching consequences. A leader who values ethical principles is more inclined to lead their organization in a way that contributes positively to society and minimizes harm to the environment.

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Conversely, an organization committed to CSR is likely to attract and cultivate ethical leaders. When employees witness the organization’s dedication to making a meaningful impact, they are inspired to align their actions with ethical standards. This creates a culture of responsibility, empathy, and accountability throughout the company.

The Benefits of Ethical Leadership and CSR

  • Enhanced Reputation: Companies known for ethical leadership and robust CSR initiatives tend to build stronger reputations. Such organizations are perceived as trustworthy, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and improved brand image.
  • Talent Attraction and Retention: Ethical leadership and CSR are appealing to the modern workforce, especially to the younger generation. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that demonstrates a commitment to ethical practices and social responsibility.
  • Risk Mitigation: Ethical leaders are proactive in identifying and addressing potential ethical and legal issues. This approach helps mitigate risks, prevent scandals, and maintain compliance with regulations.
  • Innovation: Companies focused on CSR are often at the forefront of innovation. The drive to solve societal and environmental challenges encourages creative thinking and the development of sustainable business practices.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Ethical leadership and CSR foster stronger relationships with stakeholders, including customers, investors, and communities. Engaged stakeholders are more likely to support the company’s endeavours and contribute to its success.

Challenges and Strategies

While ethical leadership and CSR offer numerous benefits, implementing and maintaining these principles can be challenging. Leaders may face conflicts between ethical decisions and short-term financial gains. Striking a balance between profit-making and social responsibility requires a long-term perspective and a commitment to values.

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To overcome these challenges, leaders can adopt the following strategies:

  • Lead by Example:Ethical leaders should model the behaviour they expect from their team. When leaders demonstrate integrity and empathy, they encourage employees to follow suit.
  • Integrate CSR into Strategy: CSR should not be an afterthought but an integral part of the business strategy. Align CSR initiatives with the company’s core values and objectives.
  • Transparent Communication: Openly communicate the company’s CSR efforts and progress to stakeholders. Transparency builds trust and accountability.
  • Collaboration: Collaborate with employees, stakeholders, and experts to develop effective CSR initiatives. Involving diverse perspectives ensures comprehensive solutions.
  • Continuous Learning: Ethical leadership and CSR are evolving concepts. Leaders should invest in ongoing education to stay updated on ethical practices and sustainable business trends.

Ethical leadership and corporate social responsibility are not just buzzwords; they are essential for creating a sustainable and impactful business. Organizations that prioritize ethical leadership and embrace CSR contribute positively to society, the environment, and their own success. By aligning values with actions, leaders can steer their companies towards a future that transcends profitability and leaves a lasting legacy of positive change.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Leadership Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

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Q: What is the significance of Leadership Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Leadership Ethics and CSR are essential for fostering responsible and sustainable business practices. They ensure that leaders prioritize ethical decision-making and consider the impact of their actions on society and the environment.

Q: What is Ethical Leadership?
Ethical leadership involves making decisions based on principles that emphasize honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect for individuals and communities. Ethical leaders serve as role models and promote a culture of ethical behaviourbehavior within their organizations.

Q: How does Ethical Leadership contribute to the success of an organization?
Ethical leadership enhances employee morale, trust, and loyalty. It helps organizations build a positive reputation, attract talented individuals, and foster strong stakeholder relationships, ultimately leading to long-term success.

Disclaimer: This content was authored by the content team of ET Spotlight team. The news and editorial staff of ET had no role in the creation of this article.

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Climate action ambitions must match with action on climate


Photo: @narendramodi / X, previously known as Twitter
Photo: @narendramodi / X, previously known as Twitter

Ahead of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit scheduled in New Delhi this weekend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on countries to match climate action ambitions with action on climate finance and transfer of technology.

Many countries of the Global South are at various stages of development and climate action must be a complementary pursuit, the PM wrote on his website on September 6, 2023 in a blog titled, Human-Centric Globalisation: Taking G20 to the Last Mile, Leaving None Behind.

Modi pointed out the challenges ahead due to climate impact and advocated for millets. “Due to the impact of climate change, ensuring food and nutritional security will be crucial. Millets, or Shree Anna, can help with this while also boosting climate-smart agriculture,” he said. 

He also called for a less “restrictive approach”, asking people to “move away from a purely restrictive attitude of what should not be done, to a more constructive attitude focusing on what can be done to fight climate change”.

“Democratising climate action is the best way to impart momentum to the movement. Just as individuals make daily decisions based on their long-term health, they can make lifestyle decisions based on the impact on the planet’s long-term health,” the Prime Minister said.

A global ecosystem for clean and green hydrogen will emerge from India’s G20 presidency, along with a Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre, he further wrote. 

The PM also spoke about the United Nations’-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“An interconnected world means our challenges across domains are interlinked. This is the midway year of the 2030 Agenda and many are noting with great concern that the progress on SDGs is off-track. The G20 2023 Action Plan on Accelerating Progress on SDGs will spearhead the future direction of the G20 towards implementing SDGs,” Modi wrote. 

Democratising climate action is the best way to impart momentum to the movement, the PM further said in the column. “Just as individuals make daily decisions based on their long-term health, they can make lifestyle decisions based on the impact on the planet’s long-term health,” he wrote. 

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Bean forecast brighter than corn | News, Sports, Jobs


Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Wind blows through a yellow cornfield west of Sleepy Eye Wednesday. While some ag leaders say we’re heading towards a decent harvest, others say it’ll take a lot more corn and bean seeds than usual for a bushel this fall.

NEW ULM — The latest U.S. drought monitor for Minnesota shows the worst conditions yet this year with 55 percent of Minnesota in severe drought or worse.

It’s the first time this year most of Minnesota is in severe drought.

All drought categories increased over the past week. Extreme drought increased from at least 10% to 16%.

As of Sept. 7, Marshall’s summer moisture deficit was 7.52 inches. That compares to deficits of 9.32 inches at Rochester, 7.79 inches in the Twin Cities and 5.04 inches at St. Cloud.

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President and Lincoln County soybean and corn farmer Bob Worth said shallow kernels are being found in fields.

“I think the last week took an immense toll on corn and beans,” said Worth. “They ripened way too fast with this kind of heat. I think they’re hurt a lot more than people realize. The whole summer was dry. The recent heat and wind was too much. This is our third year in a row of drought.”

“Most of what we hear from farmers on chopping isn’t very good,” he added. “It’s unreal to get three drought years in a row. We’ve got no moisture going into next year. We need a lot of fall rain. Thank goodness for federal crop insurance or a lot of us wouldn’t survive.”

South Central College Farm Business Management instructor Wayne Schoper said some of the corn may be used for silage or livestock feeders, if it’s got high moisture.

“I think we’re heading towards a decent harvest. Some beans got August rain, and could yield 50 bushels an acre or more,” said Schoper. “I think most corn will be 180 to 190 bushels, depending on when and how much rain it got.”

Schoper said new crop corn is about $4.60, compared to $6.50 last year, bringing $400 less on 200 bushel corn.

“Forward contracting may help. It’s going to be a break-even year for corn,” he added. “Bean prices of $13 will make more than corn at current prices.

“We need to see input costs come down. Repairs are at an all-time high. Long-term, we hope to maintain or make a little money,” Schoper said. “We have high world stocks of grain. Distribution is the problem.”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an American activist group that specializes in research and advocacy for agriculture subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants and corporate accountability, reports the federal crop insurance program will continue to get more costly for farmers and taxpayers.

“Currently, the program discourages climate adaptation,” reports the EWG. “Reforming crop insurance to encourage farmers to adapt to a changing climate will help make them more resilient to increasingly chaotic and destructive weather, cut costs and reduce agriculture’s climate crisis contributions that account for at least 11% of U.S. emissions.”

“Without meaningful reform, the federal crop insurance program will become too expensive for farmers and taxpayers,” said agricultural economist and EWG Midwest Director Anne Schechinger. “Lawmakers have many options for undertaking farm bill reforms including reducing premium subsidies for farming on high-risk land and cutting payments to crop insurance companies and insurance agents.”

The EWG reports big agribusiness allies are pushing to trade direct payments for a system that guarantees income – at taxpayer expense – for the wealthiest corporate agriculture businesses that are already doing far better than most of the U.S. economy.

The organization calls for providing every farmer with a free crop insurance policy that covers yield losses of more than 30% and eliminate federal premium and other subsidies for revenue-based or other crop insurance insurance products to save $26 billion in premium subsidies over 10 years.

In addition, the EWG promotes the federal government taking bids from insurance companies to service policies, eliminating windfall profits and encouraging the private sector to develop and offer innovative options for farmers to increase insurance coverage, but not at taxpayers’ expense.

The EWG proposes full transparency requiring the USDA to make available information about who is getting free policies, taxpayer cost for providing policies and how much farmers receive in insurance payouts. The proposal would generate about $80 in savings over 10 years, according to the EWG.

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US Foods appoints Ha as general counsel


ROSEMONT — US Foods Holding Corp. said Martha Ha will join the company as executive vice president and general counsel effective Sept. 25.

Ha joins US Foods from Medtronic, a global medical device and technology company with approximately $31 billion in revenue. She most recently was the company’s vice president, chief counsel — Corporate Governance (including Sustainability, Insurance and Aviation), Mergers and Acquisitions, and Cardiovascular Portfolio.

Ha will become responsible for US Foods’ legal, food safety, risk management, corporate secretary, corporate social responsibility and ethics and compliance functions. She will also serve as a key counselor to the company’s board of directors and executive leadership team.


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Following the money behind Premier League betting sponsors


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You see it very, very often, especially in football, betting patches here or there.

Gambling companies not just on the front of shirts, on the side of shirts, the pitch-side hoardings.

You see those strange messages in Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese, and nobody understands what is going on here.

I don’t think the football clubs really realise the provenance of the company that is actually sponsoring their shirt.

Who do the Premier League clubs actually deal with? Are they dealing with the brand?

These companies, they’re using shell companies to hide their ownership structure, so the whole thing is a dodge.

I’m a football fan, and like all fans I used to recognise the sponsor on my club’s shirt. Nowadays, not so much. The Premier League has the biggest players, the best teams, the widest TV audience. But have clubs been taking money from betting brands who operate in countries where gambling is illegal? To find out, I teamed up with my colleague Taro from Nikkei in Japan and worked with FT journalists and experts from across Europe.

Illegal gambling is probably today the biggest criminal operation in the world.

This explosion of illegal betting in Asia, the number of illegal betting operators – some of the money being invested in sponsorship in sports clubs could be the proceeds of crime.

Let’s start with some context. In China all gambling is illegal except the national lottery and some casinos in a few select jurisdictions. You can’t even advertise gambling products, and that’s where football comes in. China boasted over 200mn football fans in 2022. That’s a lot of eyeballs, making football the perfect platform for overseas advertising aimed at Chinese customers within China.

If one was to run an online… particularly an illegal online operator, and you would like to get yourself or your brand or brands noticed in China, one of the most popular ways or common ways is to advertise on European soccer channels or soccer events.

It’s watching that TV coverage, seeing the sponsorship of a betting company, and then that drives people to go online immediately and bet through that betting operator.

So we are putting ourselves in a position where this advertising in a foreign country is facilitating very often illegal activity. Our Premier League is being used as the billboard. It’s got to stop.

Just to be clear, we’re not saying that every Premier League betting brand targeting Chinese customers is illegal. Advertising gambling products is perfectly legal in the UK, and there are Chinese diaspora communities all across Europe and beyond. But we wanted to know whether it was these communities that were being marketed to, or whether the money paying for sponsorship deals could ultimately be coming from illegal sources within mainland China.

We also wanted to know how much Premier League clubs – our clubs – really know about the brands they help to advertise. The Premier League doesn’t impose its own standards on clubs when it comes to vetting potential sponsors. It’s up to each club individually, and none of the clubs we approached were willing to tell us how they go about due diligence in any detail, so we looked into the betting brands themselves and who owns them. What we found was a tangled web of closed doors, dead ends, and companies within companies.

138 was one of the very first brands to try to experiment with a globalisation of that Asian market. People talked about them because they sponsored Watford, for example.

138.com is a new gaming brand. We were looking for a football club to become the shirt sponsor of, that was a club with a plan, going somewhere a little bit different.

The man you just heard from is called Garth Kimber. He was the public face of 138.com when it signed sponsorship deals with Watford FC and Newcastle United in 2013, but he wasn’t the owner of that brand. It’s not quite that simple. 138.com is just a name. It needs a company behind it to get its gaming licence, file trademarks, register websites, and so on.

In this case, that company was called Fesuge Limited, and the company behind that was Xela Holdings. Garth Kimber was the director of Xela Holdings, but getting at who ultimately owned Xela Holdings – that was our first dead end.

Now, we have to make a distinction between the owner on paper and the actual owner or the actual beneficiary. It could be a company that offers the service of being the public-facing owner, but it is actually held for someone else, or it could be that it is the vehicle that does the administrative work for the ultimate owner of the brand.

We’re talking here people who know the system absolutely inside out. They know the people to contact, they know what kind of hurdles you’ve got to overcome. Believe me, it’s actually more complicated than you think.

In 2013, Xela Holdings was described in a trade magazine as the online arm of one of Macau’s leading VIP junket operators, Suncity.

Suncity Group has been variously linked to triad groups, has been accused of being a front for money laundering, and its former CEO in January, Alvin Chau, was jailed for 18 years.

He was charged with fraud, involvement in illegal gambling, as well as involvement in organised crime. When we’re talking about their online illegal betting in the mainland, Suncity was handling bets worth 1 trillion RMB a year, which exceeded the bets that went through China’s national lottery. The rewards are just so huge.

But whether Xela was, in fact, part of Suncity and ran the brand 138.com on its behalf is extremely difficult to prove, and that’s because of where it’s based. It’s on the Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish Sea that has access to the UK market, but with its own government and its own laws.

The Isle of Man has an Act which basically allows you, if you feel uncomfortable revealing your ownership of something, you can nominate a shareholder in your place. So you end up with shell companies. You end up with shell companies that go nowhere because you cannot find out definitively who the owners are.

Everything is like one of those Russian dolls where countless companies are used as screens, companies which are almost always based in tax havens, with the British Virgin Islands being a prime candidate for that.

The British Virgin Islands will afford an extra level of… they won’t like me saying this, but secrecy. And if you don’t have law enforcement powers it will be much harder to find the information.

So where does this leave us? We knew Xela Holdings was based on the Isle of Man, so we pulled company documents from there. All that told us is that Xela Holdings was owned by another company called Xela (BVI). Where was that company registered? The British Virgin Islands. That means that without a court order we can’t access who owned that company or ultimately the people behind Xela and the 138.com brand.

We asked Garth Kimber whether Xela Holdings was ultimately owned by Suncity as the trade magazine from 2013 had claimed. He didn’t answer the question directly, but categorically denied any involvement in illegal betting activities and said he had consistently abided by the laws and regulations of all jurisdictions in which he operated. But we found evidence of links between Xela Holdings and a number of Suncity subsidiaries.

There was a dispute with regards to a domain name called sunbet.com, and that really gave us some very interesting insights, more puzzle pieces as to how these companies all fit together. In that dispute Xela Holdings is described as the corporate and regulatory arm of Sun Ventures Development.

This seemingly insignificant line in a 2014 panel decision by the World Intellectual Property Organisation set us on a trail. By looking at Sun Ventures Development Limited, we were introduced to a whole new cast of companies within Suncity’s orbit.

There was a whole other universe of Suncity-affiliated companies, and some of these had the word ‘Sun’ in their name or would use something quite similar to the Suncity logo.

There was a contractor to Sun Ventures Development which filed some corporate filings in the Philippines, and what’s interesting there is when you actually looked at the logo that was displayed on the paperwork, it was the same logo, the same sun image that Suncity the Casino group, was using.

Cheuk Wah was the Philippines’ licence holder for three Suncity websites from 2008, and when you look at the shareholders of Cheuk Wah one of those shareholders was also on the board of Sun International, which is another Suncity affiliate company.

All of these connections suggest Sun Ventures Development Limited may have been a subsidiary of Suncity which could provide another potential link between Xela Holdings and Suncity itself. We found the LinkedIn profile of the person who represented Sun Ventures Development Limited in the domain name dispute. It suggested that he worked for Suncity at the time, but we couldn’t get hold of him. There was no number or email address for him, no response on LinkedIn. We even tried reaching him through colleagues at his current workplace. Nothing. And again, because of where Sun Ventures Development was registered, we weren’t able to get hold of its owners.

Sun Ventures was registered in the British Virgin Islands.

We don’t have the shareholders, but we have some names of directors which would suggest that they’re probably Asian, but that’s where the trail ends.

So we have these connections from Suncity to Sun Ventures Development, from Sun Ventures to Xela Holdings, from Xela to 138.com. We asked Garth Kimber, Watford FC, and Newcastle United about these links. None were willing to comment on them specifically. We did get a statement from Watford which said, ‘the club employs a rigorous process of due diligence involving both its internal legal team and external legal advice to ensure absolute transparency where commercial partners are concerned.’

But we still had questions. If there was even the suggestion that these brands could be connected to illegal gambling operations in the Far East, how could they be allowed to advertise in Great Britain? How did they even get their licences? It turns out most of today’s Asian-facing betting sponsors gain licences to advertise in the UK through something called a white label.

At its essence, a white label provider applies for and gets a Gambling Commission licence to provide services in the UK market, then it sells its services on to gambling brands that may be based anywhere in the world. And with that, all the due diligence that the Gambling Commission, the regulator, would do into these brands immediately just falls and drops a level.

So the Gambling Commission, just to use this UK example, has made it incumbent upon those white label licence holders to check the sublicenses. But unfortunately, the white labelling system enables the primary licence holder to take responsibility but not actually exercise that responsibility. This is clearly exposed by earlier this year TGP Europe, which is the biggest white labelling operator for most of the betting partners in the Premier League, is hit with a £300,000-plus fine by the Gambling Commission in part because it didn’t do enough due diligence on these companies.

With the gambling industry and the way that the white labels operate, it is murky. They are not adequately scrutinised, and I don’t think the public know anything about that.

In a compliance and enforcement report, from 2020, the Gambling Commission itself admits there is a concern that unlicensed operators who would potentially not pass the Commission’s initial licencing suitability checks are looking to use the white label model to provide gambling services in Great Britain.

Therefore, the Commission insists, it is essential that UKGC licence holders conduct appropriate due diligence checks on their prospective white label partners before entering into a business relationship, but, that ultimately, responsibility for compliance will always sit with the licence holder. So in effect, the Gambling Commission only looks into the white label provider itself and not the partners that provider then deals with.

In this case, that white label provider is TGP Europe. And when we tried to find out who was behind TGP Europe we found a very interesting press release from one of its contractors.

It was announcing a partnership with TGP, and they said part of TGP Holdings which itself is part of the Suncity Group. And when you find that, it’s like a eureka moment.

Those allegations that had been floating around in the media for a while I put to both Garth Kimber and to Steve Templeman, who on Companies House, on publicly accessible records is one of the directors of TGP Europe. Both of them categorically denied any links to Suncity or Alvin Chau, but there’s very little ways of verifying that because there’s not a huge amount that’s clear about exactly how their ownership structure works.

Back about a decade ago, 2013/2014, there was a company called TGP Holdings that half-owned TGP Europe whose owners, the real ultimate owners, we didn’t quite know. To begin with, it was held in multiple-use shell companies. Then that got changed and the assets were put into trust. The assets have been reassigned as it were, and now it’s been dissolved. So we don’t really know who the owner of that company, TGP Holdings, was.

The trusts that were used to dissolve TGP Holdings might have stopped us getting to the company’s ultimate owners, but they also gave us a clue. They were the same trusts used to dissolve Xela (BVI), the shell company behind Xela Holdings and 138.com. Could the same people be behind both sets of companies, and could that be Suncity?

We found a statement from the Gambling Commission in 2017 in which the regulator called TGP Europe and Fesuge Limited, the company that ran 138.com under Xela Holdings, ‘part of a single group of companies’. But when we asked the Gambling Commission what it meant by this, it contradicted the original statement, saying ‘they were owned by separate companies that were owned by some of the same owners’.

Then, when I lodged a Freedom of Information request to reveal the names of the companies and owners in question, the Commission decided to withhold that information. Among the reasons it gave, the following really jumped out at me. ‘The public trusts that the Commission has robust processes in place to assess operators so that when they use the services provided by an operator, they are confident that there has been sufficient scrutiny of that operator to ensure that they are protected. If this information were released it would undermine that confidence. We consider that the public interest is better served by withholding this information.’

I’m not going to lie. I was pretty stunned by this response. The UK’s regulator refused to reveal what it knew about 138.com and TGP Europe’s owners, under a Freedom of Information request, because it felt that it would undermine public trust in its ability to do its job. And yeah, after all the effort we’d gone to, it was frustrating to be denied this basic information.

Beyond that, this whole episode raised an even bigger question. If we can’t find out who ultimately owned these brands, or even the company behind their licences, then can the clubs really know who they’re dealing with? There was evidence from another Asian betting brand that threw this into doubt.

They love having signing ceremonies, and I noticed that there was a couple of guys who were appearing there… chief executive, chief marketing this, chief operating officer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… and one of them was particularly present, one Dean Hawkes. He was a male model.

Dean Hawkes didn’t respond to our requests for comment, but we could see from his social media that he’s modelled for some of the world’s leading brands and featured in several Chinese-language campaigns. In 2019, he also featured in promotional videos for major football clubs across Europe, each time standing in for a genuine CEO or representative of a betting brand called Yabo.

Suddenly, they were everywhere, I mean absolutely everywhere. In terms of the partnerships, the portfolio was unbelievable.

But did the clubs think they were dealing with Yabo, or with somebody else?

One clue was in the Manchester United 2020 Annual Report which describes one of its global sponsors as Tianyu (Yabo). One of the other important documents was the announcement of a prize draw using Yabo as the trade name, but actually behind it is Tianyu Technology. And this was ahead of the 2019-2020 Premier League season.

We don’t know how much money Manchester United received in sponsorship funding from Tianyu, and some estimates have put it around about the £3mn mark. So therefore, we would expect there to be quite a lot of money in Tianyu in order to be able to sponsor Premiership clubs, and that wasn’t the case. In its first year it made the equivalent of around about £35,000 in revenue. And the following year it was around about the £130,000 mark. That then made us question, is it actually their money that is paying for the sponsorship?

In response to our questions, Manchester United said that the agreement with Yabo, which later rebranded to HTH, complied with UK law, and that before any partnership agreement is completed the club undertakes a thorough internal and external due diligence process. The spokesperson made no mention of Tianyu though, nor any other company behind the brand. So where was the money coming from?

We knew from records found in the Philippines that Tianyu was based in Manila. We also knew the company had placed several job adverts asking for Chinese speakers and lodged alien work permits enabling Chinese citizens to work out of its offices. Why? Could it be that Tianyu’s employees were doing something in the Philippines that was illegal in China, and could that be proxy betting?

Because betting in most Asian countries is largely not legal or has very limited legal betting opportunities, people would bet with someone they know, which is an agent, and that agent might handle three customers or five customers or 20 customers. They don’t only meet people in bars and pubs to take bets. They open accounts for their customers online. So it was a local business when it’s physical, but then suddenly you can have customers across Asia.

So if there’s not any casinos in China, or any legal casinos, people are instead using technology to bet via proxy in casinos abroad. It’s definitely been something that has been a massive thing in China, and extremely popular, but more and more difficult to control.

One of the easiest ways of operating that they found is also for geographical reasons… is to go to the Philippines. You can acquire a licence there. Then what you do, you take some office space and you move Chinese-speaking personnel into those offices so they can actually interact with the customers.

And then from there, your personal telemarketer, for want of a better term – your personal relationship – they would guide you through the process of accessing the actual gaming platform. They’re usually Chinese youths in their mid-20s to early 30s, and that basically reflects the target market segment that they’re going for.

Proxy betting is seen as a way for Chinese operators to take bets from customers in mainland China while basing themselves abroad. Or, to put it another way, to break Chinese law while evading the country’s authorities. But is this what employees of Tianyu were doing when they traded as Yabo and sponsored Manchester United?

Taro and I contacted as many Tianyu representatives as we could find. Those who were willing to talk to us said they couldn’t remember or couldn’t provide any details about the company’s clients or dealings, but we did find evidence of another gambling operator, also called Yabo, which was dismantled by the Chinese authorities in 2021 for running a cross-border gambling syndicate.

With this Yabo, what the authorities alleged against them was that they had employed senior staff and based them overseas, and that they had also recruited Chinese-speaking staff within China separately to work on some of these operations that were based overseas.

The Chinese authorities were able to identify 80,000 agents working in mainland China – 80,000 – and these agents have themselves affiliates. So it’s a pyramidal system, so it becomes incredibly difficult to find out who is doing what.

When they were at their height, in 2019, almost 60 per cent of people working in Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators, or POGOs, were from China, and almost half of all bets placed through them were in Chinese Yuan. Since then, serious crimes attributed to POGOs have quadrupled, including human trafficking and kidnapping.

All of that said, we can’t be certain the Yabo brand, which was handled by Tianyu Technology in the Philippines, and which sponsored Manchester United, was in any way connected to the cross-border gambling Yabo based in China. In fact, the only connection we could find between Tianyu and China at all was a trademark application.

A Chinese company tried to register a Yabo trademark in China and was rejected, but Tianyu managed to register the same trademark in the same year in the Philippines. That didn’t help us much, but looking at trademarks gave us much more – more Tianyu brands to investigate and a whole new line of inquiry.

Looking at the trademarks that Tianyu Technology owned, it became apparent that they didn’t just own Yabo, but had also registered a whole number of other brands that had sponsored football clubs. It was quite interesting once you started looking at it because the brand ownership would shift.

On the 1st of August, 2022, HTH and Leyu’s trademarks passed directly from Tianyu to another Philippines-based company called BOE United Technology. And, just a day later, yet another Manila company applied for the Yabo trademarks previously held by Tianyu.

Now, it doesn’t mean that this company is the real company. No, they’re just the holder of the licences and the trademarks, but they’re owned by somebody else, which is owned by somebody else, which is owned by somebody else, up till the moment where, as per usual, you hit the wall and you can’t go further than that. But at least we have a proof that those companies are related.

As we continued to look into this, one of the curious things that we found out was that in fact, Tianyu and the other owners or the registrants of the various brands, weren’t in fact gambling operators. They were service providers for gambling operators, which again leads us to the question, well, if they’re only providing services, whose money are they actually using? And in this case, we found that it was another company sitting on top called Infiniweb.

Infiniweb Technology, Inc. seemed like a ghost. The Manila address they gave to the Philippines gaming regulator turned out to be false. Their website could only be accessed with the help of an agent. We did find several Facebook posts where Infiniweb representatives could be seen donating money and supplies to police stations across the Philippines, but none of those receiving the donations were able to offer any contact information for the company itself.

Then there were the company documents. We couldn’t find them for Infiniweb Technology, Inc. anywhere in the Philippines, but we did find them somewhere. You can probably guess. The British Virgin Islands. Throughout this entire investigation, the BVI has been the end of the line in our various searches for brand owners.

So at the end of it all, we still don’t know who’s behind Xela and 138.com, Tianyu and Yabo, or Infiniweb and a host of brands still operating under BOE United Technology. We don’t even know the full involvement, if any, of Suncity. And for the clubs, the licence providers, and the regulators who have to deal with these brands, that’s a problem.

The fact that it’s difficult to uncover who owns these entities, how they are run, how much profit they’re making, are they paying taxes, where are they paying their taxes… I mean, clearly, this is something that needs to be looked into a lot more.

Telling us just the brand is one thing. Unless we really know who are the companies that are providing money, who are behind those companies, and whose money or where is this money coming from, how do we know for sure that the money is clean? How do we know for sure that the due diligence has been done?

For me, any company which hasn’t got a transparent chain from operator to owner… it’s not right. It’s definitely not right.

It is a way for these companies to operate in the British market, but completely outside of British corporate regulation.

These can become international operations far beyond the reach of a gambling regulator or a law enforcement organisation. The problem for enforcement against illegal betting is one simple question – where does the crime take place?

To get proof we would have to, I think, probably invade the British Virgin Islands, seize all the computers, and ask a team of specialists to go through every single company that is registered there to find out the names of who actually owns the thing.

We’ve gone into a lot of detail in this film – brands, shell companies, licence providers, trademark holders. But why does any of that matter? Because for 10 years now these tools have been used to conceal the true identities of some of football’s most visible sponsors. Not just in the Premier League, but in leagues across Europe. We see the name, the brand, but we don’t know who’s behind it or how it’s being paid for. From a legal and transparency perspective, that should be concerning for all of us, but there’s another simpler reason why this information should be in the public domain. Fans everywhere deserve to know.

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How a supplement company became a haven for misinformation


On a Friday afternoon in July, as many New Yorkers fled the scorching city streets, a couple of dozen out-of-towners descended on Times Square. They came bearing gold letter balloons spelling out LFVN, the stock symbol for LifeVantage, the company they’d come to promote, and foam cutouts of its navy blue supplement bottles. LifeVantage’s chief executive officer, Steve Fife, rang the Nasdaq exchange’s closing bell, a celebration of the Utah-based company’s new products and rewards programs. Displayed on the side of the seven-story Nasdaq building were advertisements promoting the company’s dietary supplements and their power to “optimize health.”

At first glance, LifeVantage, worth some $84 million, looks decidedly mainstream. It boasts plaudits from Nasdaq, has blue-chip investors like Fidelity and BlackRock, and Erin Brockovich, the iconic crusader for corporate accountability, sits on its board of directors. Its products are widely available; a bottle of its main supplement goes for around $56 on Amazon.

But in interviews with LifeVantage distributors, executives, and former scientists, as well as in court filings, documents obtained through records requests, and online material, a pattern emerged in the way the company and its representatives have sought to straddle the mainstream and the fringe.

LifeVantage and some of its distributors promote — and in many cases, distort — scientific evidence to tout the benefits of the products they’re selling. While that might be common among supplement companies, what has experts and some employees uniquely concerned is how LifeVantage has capitalized on conspiracist thinking about Covid-19 and the broader health care system to draw customers and sellers looking to resist mainstream medicine altogether.

“Don’t be afraid to rise up and go with what you know,” Erin Brockovich told a crowd of 5,000 elite LifeVantage distributors at a 2019 gathering, alluding to her high-profile fight to hold a gas company to account for polluting groundwater. “We are finally owning ourselves and going, ‘Yeah, I don’t think so. That isn’t working for my health — and let me please be in charge of my own health and what I know is happening to me.’”

But the sheen of academic science and Wall Street, and the emphasis on personal wellness, has obscured what former employees say is a growing push within LifeVantage’s massive salesforce to undermine evidence-based medicine and promote shoddy science.

At the 2022 Health Freedom Summit, an online event that featured a number of prominent anti-vaccine advocates, two of the company’s distributors appeared onscreen to promote Protandim. One, Andrea Ebert, went on to suggest, without evidence, that the supplement might reverse what she characterized as harmful effects of the vaccines against the coronavirus, using talking points commonly used by anti-vaccine groups to tout the supplement.

“Maybe you or your loved one have been coerced into getting this jab, and had serious and deep regrets, and are suffering health-wise from it,” she said.

Nathalie Chevreau, a biochemist who served as a senior scientific researcher for LifeVantage from 2014 until 2019, told STAT that distributors also routinely made inaccurate claims — including, in some cases, that the products could help with cancer — at corporate events.

“When the distributor[s] came onstage and would start talking, sometimes my hair was standing up,” Chevreau said. “We’d have to go and stop them, and say ‘you cannot say that.’”

Like some of its competitors in the dietary supplement space, LifeVantage uses a choreographed multi-level marketing operation, relying on some 54,000 active independent distributors to recruit even more salespeople, sell its flagship supplement, Protandim, and push product lines aimed at weight loss, skin care, and pets. In private online gatherings, Facebook groups, and Zoom sessions, distributors are trained to promote Protandim’s purported ability to reduce oxygen-free radicals, and to suggest that scientific evidence supports a broad spectrum of potential benefits.

“LifeVantage is very proud of the science that backs our products,” Fife told STAT, adding: “People want to take control of their own destiny, physically and financially.”

LifeVantage claims that Protandim increases the activity of the Nrf2 pathway, which produces antioxidants in the body. Joseph M. McCord, a biochemist credited with inventing the Protandim compound who went on to serve as the company’s lead scientific officer, gave occasional talks to LifeVantage distributors describing how components of the supplements — such as plant extracts, like milk thistle or ashwagandha — might regulate a biochemical pathway by switching on particular genes.

“You may not have any idea what I just said,” McCord told an audience of elite distributors in 2010. “But you have a job — you have an obligation — to learn what this means.”

McCord co-authored around 17 published studies on LifeVantage products. In some in vitro lab studies, and in others using mice, Protandim appeared to reduce oxidative stress, a measure of the presence of oxygen-free radicals or other reactive species. The studies include one conducted under the auspices of the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health, published in the peer-reviewed journal Aging Cell in 2016. Among its findings: Protandim increased the median lifespan of male mice by 7% — which the paper characterized as a “small but statistically significant” change that wasn’t seen in female mice.

In an interview, McCord noted that not all the research was primarily funded by LifeVantage, and said the studies suggested the Nrf2 pathway was a promising avenue for continued research and development in the supplement space.

But he acknowledged that few conclusions could be drawn about Protandim’s effectiveness in humans, and that the long-term safety in humans has not been studied.

A handful of small-scale studies have evaluated Protandim’s effects in humans; by the researchers’ own account, “results were mixed.” A study of 29 adults published in 2005 suggested Protandim reduced measures of oxidative stress after a month, but lacked a placebo group. Another, published in 2016, looked at 38 runners to see whether the supplement improved their performance, or reduced a measure of oxidative stress, over a period of 90 days, and found that it did neither. There is no research demonstrating that reducing oxidative stress can improve health outcomes, though limited studies have linked oxidative stress to a range of health issues.

Yet LifeVantage promotional materials and distributor pitches tend to spin these results positively.

It’s not uncommon for supplement makers to make claims that raise eyebrows. The Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate dietary supplements, but, unlike drugs and biologics, these compounds aren’t approved for safety and effectiveness before they hit the market. When the FDA does crack down, it’s often because problems have emerged. The Federal Trade Commission has oversight of marketing in the U.S., but it and the FDA face sisyphean tasks in a ballooning industry where advertising increasingly takes place via private channels.

Even with this latitude, LifeVantage has run afoul of regulators. Though its previous incarnations date back to 1988, the company has existed in its current form since 2005, when smaller supplement makers merged to form LifeVantage. It originally sold Protandim Nrf2 Synergizer through retail outlets like GNC. Around a decade ago, having shifted to a multi-level marketing model, LifeVantage began to ramp up spurious claims about the power of its natural compounds to halt or reverse effects not only of the aging process, but of conditions including cancer and Alzheimer’s. These claims might have resonated with those seeking alternatives to mainstream medical treatment, or who were desperate to treat serious health problems with few other options.

But the claims were in some cases false or wildly misleading. In April 2017, the FDA warned LifeVantage to stop making claims related to disease prevention or treatment. The CEO at the time, Darren Jensen, responded that “LifeVantage reaffirms its commitment to compliance and to not marketing its products for the prevention or treatment of cancer or any other disease.”

Still, McCord told STAT he has serious concerns about how LifeVantage and some of its representatives have regularly twisted research to market products. One of the reasons he left LifeVantage in 2013, he said, was its tendency to prioritize marketing concerns over scientific ones. When LifeVantage remade itself as a multi-level marketing company, this issue “went from bad to worse,” he said. “I thought it was an inappropriate way to sell a fairly serious product.”

Following the FDA warning letter, LifeVantage appeared to lean more heavily on disclaimers that its products are “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease,” and instructed its distributors to do the same.

In a statement, a LifeVantage spokesperson wrote that the company “has multiple approaches to ensure that our Consultants” — the company’s term for its distributors — “make legal, truthful and not misleading product claims,” including a policy that prohibits unauthorized personal testimonials and “any claim that LifeVantage products are useful in the cure, treatment, diagnosis, mitigation or prevention of any diseases or signs or symptoms of disease.” The company works to educate its representatives and to take action against problematic pitches, the statement said.

And it noted that “our Consultants are independent contractors” who “sometimes challenge our Policies and Procedures.” In these cases, the statement said, “we take appropriate action.”

But that hasn’t stopped some distributors from toeing the line of truth.

While they might contain disclaimers, recent videos from distributors, including those among the company’s elite ranks — who have recruited top-performing teams — routinely flout that call for caution.

For example, in a video posted online in November 2020, April Wagner, a distributor high up in the company’s ranks, primarily addressing prospective LifeVantage distributors, highlighted the purported benefits of products including a new formulation of Protandim.

“What if you could have the blood of a 20-year-old, or extend your life by 7%?” Wagner asked.

Paul Coates, former director of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, reviewed many of the scientific studies on Protandim, including the one demonstrating a 7% increase in lifespan for male mice, and said he found them to be largely well designed, if small in scope. But Coates also said the company and its representatives regularly went too far in their statements. “The claims are not supportable by this kind of study,” he said.

In internal meetings, distributors themselves have raised concerns about the accuracy of information some representatives use to sell products. In an April 2019 Zoom meeting, a recording of which was reviewed by STAT, led by Charlotte Venter, an elite distributor based in Australia, sellers expressed alarm at what they characterized as inaccurate material that had too often crept into pitches, such as that a probiotic product could help with gluten intolerance.

One distributor told the group she worried that sellers might “take some of these things as gospel and then go and duplicate that, not only to their teams, but potentially to customers.”

Shortly after STAT contacted Venter to ask about the video, it was removed from her YouTube channel.

By the time the pandemic hit, LifeVantage was poised to benefit from fear and confusion around this new health threat, as well as a newly remote labor pool.

In a May 2020 Instagram post, the company shared a line graph of its share price labeled “LifeVantage Stock During Quarantine,” a short-lived bump that saw its stock price rise from about $10 in March 2020 to upwards of $16. Text above the chart read: “Surprised by what you see? We’re not.”

Though there was little evidence to support claims they could ward off or help treat Covid-19, dietary supplements became an attractive option for those seeking remedies based on natural compounds, including individuals in anti-vaccine circles and other groups who resist mainstream health guidance. The global market for supplements grew 7.5% in 2021, ending that year at nearly $60 billion — a figure that dwarfed predictions issued before the pandemic, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

LifeVantage is one of a number of supplement makers that have lately gained traction with fringe alternative-health activists, who see its messaging around self-determinism as resonating with their particular concerns, and as signaling an openness to unorthodox attitudes towards health.

The public-health restrictions implemented to curb the effects of Covid-19 catalyzed a growing number of activists who make up the “health-freedom movement.” The movement champions the notion that individuals should make their own decisions about health, even when those choices contradict the consensus of doctors or public-health officials. And its members have long fought for a supplement market free of regulatory oversight.

These dynamics represent a front in a larger battle over truth, said Thomas H. Murray, president emeritus at the Hastings Center. The movement’s rhetoric is an echo, he said, of “our inability as a country to agree on who is trustworthy and what is true.”

Those disagreements flared during the pandemic, when even basic health information became a target for skepticism or misinformation.

Fife, the LifeVantage CEO, said the company was “very careful” not to tie product launches to the pandemic.

But language in distributor pitches has invoked Protandim’s purported ability to repair damage from the virus, or supposed adverse effects from the vaccines.

Online, distributors have suggested that Protandim could help fight off Covid-19. In a clip that Wagner, the elite distributor, posted to TikTok in September 2021, she holds a yellow caplet in one hand and a Protandim bottle in the other, and urges viewers to try “one of these magic tablets” that have been “medically studied.” Protandim, Wagner said, “will increase your glutathione by over 300% — glutathione is our master antioxidant, and there are even studies on Google Scholar that show increasing glutathione levels will inhibit the Corona disease.” (The relevant papers appear to be surveys of previously published literature — not clinical studies conducted since the onset of the pandemic.)

“The idea that these supplements would be marketed in a way that people have a higher risk of using these sham snake oil products is outrageous,” said Bryn Austin, professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “If people turn to supplements marketed with claims of boosting immunity,” Austin said, it’s likely they’re not following the evidence on what would actually protect against Covid-19.

Kelsey Brennan-Patrick, who owns a dance studio in Phoenixville, Pa. and has been a LifeVantage distributor for around six years, told STAT that in the early days of the pandemic, “we were all trying to understand and figure out what this virus was.” She said she was aware that claims that Protandim could prevent or treat illnesses including Covid-19 were off-limits. But anecdotally, she’d heard that the supplement might help mitigate symptoms. (This is not supported by scientific evidence.)

“It was hard for us, as a company, because we could not communicate it like that,” she explained, citing the company’s disclaimers around preventing or treating disease. “So we had to be very compliant and just kind of lead the horse to water.”

Ebert, the distributor who presented at the Health Freedom Summit, said she was aware of other sellers within the company who shared her skepticism of public health regulations and vaccines, and who saw the supplement — which she has called a “golden bullet” — as a step toward health freedom.

She told STAT she leads a team of around 100 distributors and isn’t opposed to science, but questioned the motivations of health officials who established vaccine mandates and the companies that manufactured them — a common anti-vaccine talking point.

“In the medical world, there’s science spelled with an ‘s,’” Ebert said, “and then there’s science spelled with a dollar sign.” (Researchers have estimated that the vaccines, and the massive campaign to make them accessible to the public, have saved as many as 3 million lives in the U.S. alone.)

In a follow-up message, Ebert told STAT she could not categorize the beliefs of other LifeVantage distributors, and reiterated that “we never claim to cure, prevent or mitigate disease.”

Without large-scale controlled studies demonstrating Protandim actually helps people, LifeVantage has had to rely on a series of ever more aggressive sales tactics hinging on fragments of limited findings.

Health-freedom groups spent the height of the pandemic stoking mistrust as a fundraising ploy, and now court new audiences for hawking products and ideology alike. A company that says its products are backed by “science” — yet stands to profit as science deniers in its sales force tout them as a panacea of choice — harms consumers, health misinformation experts said, by pushing falsehoods along with pills.

Meanwhile, as it rings in a “strategic transformation,” including a revamp of product offerings, such as a new line of collagen products, and distributor-compensation plans, LifeVantage is also in search of fresh scientific talent. In a job posting currently live on its website, the company seeks a senior research scientist with a “commercial mindset.”

After all, it reads: “we are in the business of monetizing products and ideas, not conducting research for the sake of research.”

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