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NOW: Pensions Failing the Victims of Pension Fraud

Video download link | md5sum cfff2fb2cceefc626740e3c7f0427891
3 Months Now…
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ are being passively tolerated by those who knowingly or unknowingly facilitated them; today we focus again on NOW: Pensions, which is based here in Manchester

THE corrupt company that I left in December is becoming one heck of a hot mess. The pension providers, however, aren’t taking it seriously enough and do not respond fast enough. The video above explains the latest from NOW: Pensions, a company based here in Manchester. Strangely enough neither myself nor my wife (who also left the company in December) can remember ever signing up with this pension provider. No paperwork, no signature, no plan specified. What sort of pension gets offered without even consent being expressed? The whole thing seems rather dodgy. Last night my wife attempted to access the portal, only to discover that they had changed it. She could not get in until she changed her password in a password recovery process. Even then, in the new portal, it wasn’t clear what was signed for (nothing) and how it started. So a company that committed pension fraud for at least 5 years just enrolled staff without giving even the most basic details. One lingering suspicion is that one type of pension fraud was substituted with another in 2016, mayube a case of kickbacks, e.g. the CEO passing workers’ money to an old friend using some scheme managed by a dodgy provider, a serial violator that already paid fines and isn’t providing a good service.

At the end of the day this whole thing bodes rather badly not just for companies that claim they’re “Open Source” (but gradually move away from it) but also for pension providers in the UK. They seem to be somewhat complicit in the scam and even after months of effort, with multiple victims being actively involved, there’s little or no concrete progress. the Pension Regulator isn’t enough to tackle this.

ISO Certificates Are Like NFTs (Worthless Junk)

Video download link | md5sum 826d1eaa331010c952d7b97f3736f836
ISO Certification Did Nothing
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The real-world threats faced by private companies or non-profit organisations aren’t covered by the ISO certification mill; today we publish the last post on this topic before proceeding to some practical examples

WORKING for a company that publicly and openly boasts 2 ISO certifications means that expectations (or perception) can be compared to reality. At Sirius ‘Open Source’, where I had worked since 2011, I saw all sorts of poor security practices, even in more recent years when ISO certifications were bragged about to existing/potential clients.

There is no point trying to deflect the attention to accuser. At the moment the company is too broke for workers to sue (and eventually truly win in a monetary sense); it’s also too broke for its clients to sue. Winning in court against an insolvent company would be a Pyrrhic victory. What matters here is the truth. It can hopefully caution others.

We still have quite a bit left to cover. We’re going to cite practical examples of stuff being done to the detriment of privacy and security of staff, not to mention clients. Free software is a pragmatic choice, but when managers use proprietary software they go not ‘get’ that.

No Trade Union at Sirius ‘Open Source’ and No Respect for Unions, Either

Sirius never had a union; managers would not allow one, either

Summary: Today we take a closer look at what Sirius ‘Open Source’ management said about unions. We have plenty left to say about Sirius ‘Open Source’ (many posts already; about 200!), so we expect this series to go on until next month. We’ll show a lot more examples and evidence of scandals.

FOUR years ago I seriously considered leaving Sirius in light of the abuse suffered due to management being liars and manipulative bullies. The abuse started only weeks after the Gates Foundation had gotten involved, according to our records (we re-checked the dates recently). Earlier this winter or in autumn I had already made up my mind, having tentatively decided to do that around 12 months ago (leaving the company), but Rianne is another story. Rianne did not want to leave. My own motivations were explained in blog posts last year. Ethics were a key part of it, instrumental in the decision-making. The company ceased to be ethical.

Earlier this month we showed that a boss had picked on my wife using non-evidence and non-facts. It was a total disaster (we previously showed Rianne’s resignation letter and Rianne’s departure message at tuxmachines.org). A boss who hoped to prove that Rianne had done something wrong ended up doing many wrong things himself. For more information see Anatomy of a Corporate Witch-Hunt, especially parts like these, which reveal the full chain of correspondence. People can assess that for themselves. Readers can form their own opinions.

Here at Techrights we’ve been covering many union-related activities, especially at the EPO (since 2014, i.e. nearly a decade already). So we’ve spent more time studying this situation at Sirius, striving to accurately explain that “fluke”. The gist of the story is, on November 18th a letter was sent to Rianne, probably before the company was getting legal advice and before Rianne herself could seek legal advice. Rianne insisted that she should be given time to speak to a lawyer.

Then, on November 28th, an entirely different letter was sent. Ever so suddenly the tone of the letter and content changed because the boss and the sidekick apparently spoke to actual HR people for the first time. They checked the law and realised they had left something out. These gross omissions — and more generally the unprofessional management style — were consistent with what had been criticised for years already. This merely reinforced the legitimacy of the criticism.

“My lawyer says I can be accompanied not only by a trade union person,” Rianne wrote to the bully. “Sirius doesn’t have a union.”

The response came about a day later (after the revised letter):

Dear Rianne,

Thanks for your message.

As per our letter, you are entitled to be accompanied by either a work colleague or by a Trades Union representative.

Just to be clear, it is not Sirius’ responsibility to run or operate a Union. Trades Unions are independent bodies that operate separately to employers so that they can work for the benefit of their members.

It is also not Sirius’ responsibility to nominate a suitable Trades Union. It is a right under UK law for each employee to make an individual decision to choose whether or not they wish to join a Union. Sirius is an equal opportunity employer and makes no distinction at all between those who are members of a Trade Union and those who are not.

Kind regards,

There’s a lot wrong with that response and an upcoming video will elaborate some more. Rianne responded by stating that it was a false dichotomy and moreover the boss admitted that he would “tinker” with the witness prior to any meeting and be in a position to even deny the request. This means that any impartial or sympathetic (to Rianne) witness is deemed disqualified or subject to judgement (or warning) from the accuser. Cushioning a ‘kangaroo court’ with more kangaroos does not improve things — it merely gives the illusion of balance even where none exists. It’s like those notorious compositions in internal appeals at the EPO — compositions that were repeatedly deemed inadequate by the ILOAT.

Rianne never bothered with that stupid ‘kangaroo court’. She had already suffered enough for 4 years. She wasn’t planning to waste any more time in such a corrupt company. On Friday at 4PM a PDF was sent and on Saturday morning she formally resigned, having explained how she felt about the whole thing (see links in the relevant wiki for contents of the PDF).

Our current plan is to explain these matters and in the coming fortnight or so we’ll be publishing many more blog posts (they’re semi-drafted already) — with many more later, according to any further issues that arise (like the company trying to silence us). We cross-post, add to wiki etc. in order to better preserve access to all this information. We won’t allow that to be censored. The long report, followed by a PDF version, was already seen by the company a very long time ago. They knew what was coming. They didn’t know what to do. All the writing was done only after the bullying. In recent weeks we had to check with pension providers if the company was trying to ‘punish’ us through pensions. This is still under investigation (the pension provider opened a ticket for this and keeps updating us). This series has not been easy to publish as the company attempted to prevent access to our own E-mails! The company failed at it, so we still have access to evidence that vindicates us. We have some long articles on the way and maybe then some more blog posts (remaining notes, more embarrassing examples). We’ve meanwhile learned about the impact on the company. It can pretend all it wants that it doesn’t care, but it hurts really badly. That’s karma. Think before you shoot. Check the law before you leap to conclusions.

In the next part we’ll take a look at Carbon Accounting, which is where Sirius claims to be based. As we showed before, not only the company Sirius but also its CEO use their accountants to pretend to have an office. Sirius is a very fake company. It’s run by phonies who lie to the staff and to clients.

Sirius Open Source: Company Used to be Run by a Couple

Sirius Office - obscured

Summary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ has had a severe case of nepotism (yesterday we covered several examples, including a manager who had brought to the company 3 romantic partners who lacked suitable qualifications/experience); today we look at the CEO and his ex-wife

FOR THOSE just joining us, 24 hours ago we wrote about the impact of hiring based on connections. The former wife of one manager pasted like 20+ lines of text into the command line of a client’s very important Glassfish server (with information about other clients in that text). The client, a large energy supplier, wasn’t amused. It could easily recognise what had happened. It could also see it was the spouse of someone, who moreover lacked background in computing.

Nepotism is a very big problem. It puts in technical positions people who otherwise would never occupy such positions.

Today we wish to highlight, as a case apart so to speak (because it’s a lot longer), the CEO’s own story. We’ll stick to known facts and admit where there’s a knowledge gap because we would rather not guess (wrong assumptions and a hyperbole would just muddy the water).

Here is what the ex-wife of the CEO says about herself:

2008 joining Sirius

Notice that Sirius ‘Open Source’ also says “Free software” (she joined the company just after Sirius was sponsoring the Free Software Foundation). Back then the company was still a lot better; the above profile hasn’t been updated in years.

I joined the company 12 years ago, i.e. some time after she had joined the company, apparently with some experience managing a store (for a large British chain; they have lots of stores nationwide). So there’s a period of time when I was absent and can only understand based on chats with former colleagues. The ‘founder’ of Sirius was running the company with his wife for about 7 years since I joined. But actually, it’s a little trickier than this; he was getting married when I joined, marrying a manager in the company whom he had already had a child with (she was also about 17 years younger than him). Here is a message he sent me when (or before) I joined the company:

Hi Roy,

I wish you’d asked a few weeks ago – we’ve just finished our first graduate recruitment for interns/full-timers!
I’m sure we’ll be recruiting again soon, so let’s stay in touch… although today was my last day at Sirius for a while as I’m getting married on Saturday then off on honeymoon for a couple of weeks…

In the meantime – would you consider maybe doing some part-time contract work with us? could I get one of my engineers to call you for a chat?

All the best,

[reacted]

This is 2010:

> —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
> Hash: SHA1
>
> Hi xxxx!
>
> As you probably know, I have been spending my post-doc time mostly
> promoting FOSS, which was a personal choice of mine (advancing this
> cause by spreading the word). If you have any job openings at Sirius,
> can you please let me know? I’d be very interested.
>
> – –
> ~~ Best of wishes
>
> Dr. Roy S. Schestowitz
> http://Schestowitz.com | GNU/Linux | PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
> Editor @ http://techrights.org
> —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)
>
> iEYEARECAAYFAkwiWTEACgkQU4xAY3RXLo522ACglZPcccD/SMKp0YqesMFP0Ep6
> tEsAnjU8Qm2o1b3aW7NO8GhfogqJ5Tzj
> =iU4L
> —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

He responded:

Expect a call from xxxx – he’s very cool and completely of tge [sic] party – ex-Debian developer…

Speak when I get back.

Best,
xxxxx

Then myself (still 2010)

> Sure, that sounds great.
>
> I’m generally in no hurry and I can relocate immediately. My phone
> number is xxxxxxxx.
>
> – –
> ~~ Best of wishes
>
> Dr. Roy S. Schestowitz
> http://Schestowitz.com | GNU/Linux | PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
> Editor @ http://techrights.org
> —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)
>
> iEYEARECAAYFAkwjrwAACgkQU4xAY3RXLo5XpQCeJsvAZST1qLukJRewQPxZO17v
> 25kAni1MHnbreEaUKG4VN6rUQ0x1oYMr
> =X+4R
> —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

The key part here is, he was getting married in 2010 to the lady whom he (one can assume) hired 2 years prior. For some background, years before she was hired he phoned me, trying to recruit me while I was still a post-graduate student. I didn’t expect to have to apply for a job and do a “proper” job interview because he was already aware of my work/writings online. He appreciated it.

Regarding the wedding he wrote:

Hi Roy,

> —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
> Hash: SHA1
>
> Congratulations on the wedding!

Thank you! It was a great day and I had a very nice couple of weeks away in Sicily and Rome…

> It has been a long time since I last heard from you guy and I did not
> receive a call/E-mail. Would appreciate knowing what’s going on… :-)

Oops, looks like something fell between the cracks! xxxxx is off today, but back in on Monday and I’m sure he’ll give you a call…

Hope all is well with you, and speak soon…

Best,

When I joined the company in early 2011 I met the wife in person and learned a little more about what had happened and who she was. Workers in the office, who witnessed a lot of things and had direct face-to-face interactions every day, said the wife was controlling the husband (CEO). Some did not like her, but my experience with her was a mixed bag, partly positive. She was a lot better than some of the ‘managers’ we’ve had in recent years. I don’t recall her ever lying to us or bullying any of us.

So regarding the nepotism, what we know is that a person who was a manager at the company was marrying the so-called ‘founder’ (scare quotes as it’s likely a false credential). I do not know the full chronology of the relationship or her career path, but it seems likely that the marital relationship and having born a child played a role. Being the spouse of a ‘founder’ (or in a relationship) may mean becoming a manager irrespective of skills and experience. At best, maybe a manager was hired and then fell in love with the ‘founder’, culminating in matrimony in 2010 (and a child prior to that). Well, maybe too late for me to properly understand the chronology of it, but that smacked of nepotism already. Some members of staff did not like that as it was perceived to be somewhat inappropriate. When the CEO’s wife has a dispute with you and this escalates to the CEO, whose side will he take? More so if, according to office insiders, the wife controls the husband….

The CEO’s wife worked with my wife on handling tickets. She trusted her, gave her a chance, and was usually grateful for her hard work. My wife has mostly fond memories of her. She even sent her a sweater as a gift at one point. To me, personally, she sent a “Star of the Week” award (10-pound voucher) as an experiment of providing incentives, urging staff to go the extra mile. As another form of recognition I was sent a 5-year anniversary “certificate” from the company (we’d take a photo of this 5-year anniversary item, but it’s laminated and would be difficult to photograph). On the downside, these things were not a promotion or a payrise or even a bonus. Hence, that would entail no motivation or morale boost, it would be mostly symbolic. We previously explained why workers lacked an incentive to improve; managers were not even using their work when they decided to go/walk the ‘extra mile’, as it was all about protecting “territory”; any company that is failing to grow or reward people for extra effort doesn’t have a future because colleagues would sooner or later head for the door (exit).

In summary, the nepotism remains somewhat unclear or shrouded in mystery because I arrived 2-3 years late (years after the soon-to-be-wife of the CEO actually joined). But as noted above, if your line manager or direct supervisor is the spouse of the CEO, do not expect grievances to be professionally handled.

A Culture of False Pretences at Sirius Open Source Inc./Ltd.

Video download link | md5sum 8a0c716f5505ae9716a939a2824a5a3e
Sirius False Pretences
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The Sirius ‘Open Source’ CEO built his repertoire on lies; technical staff did antagonise these lies, but it did not help; today I show how he lied about what had initiated his “investigation” and the company lied about his predecessor, too (they’ve managed to ‘normalise’ deceit all across the board)

THE company I left last month is a lot dodgier than I had realised (from within). We shall see where the shells go… US? Another residential address in the UK? How far does the nepotism go and can any Sirius worker be honest about what’s going on? A company that is honest to staff and to clients doesn’t have such issues; it doesn’t need to hide lots of skeletons in a closet. Just be honest and consistency will follow (as opposed to shuffling excuses and phony timelines).

A lot went wrong with the company when the CEO took money from the Gates Foundation under an NDA; proving a correlation is hard, but things have never been the same. The bullying against my wife and I started only weeks later (same time I was investigating extremely damning things about Bill Gates).

The video above focuses on one rather obvious example of lying. It starts with me showing our Cisco phone (now obsolete) and lousy copy-paste job by the CEO, in effect reusing accusations against two different people. Towards the end it shows the latest meme and article. That article shows how the CEO was stalking IRC and when he saw a name mentioned he decided to use that as a sort of pretext (to make it seem like a client had complained). He not only used this unrelated mention to allege somebody had complained; he took it further than this to do the same to my wife. But I spoke to the person in question. The person did not complain. The CEO of Sirius is lying. The company is basically built on a thick layer of lies.

To conclude the video, it’s worth mentioning that the ‘original’ terrible manager (not the wife of the CEO, who was the predecessor, but a former colleague of his from the Open Source Consortium) already damaged the morale of all the staff. Many left weeks/months later and those who stayed were suffering abuse. We’ve mentioned it many times, as that is how things deteriorated 4 years ago, but we need to emphasise it again.

The company said that she went away for a long holiday and then silence… she would never come back. How mysterious. That was a lie. Months passed and not a word was spoken; then one of the colleagues, who had suffered abuse from her, asked if she is ever coming back. The rest of us also wondered, “Where is she? Is she still on a holiday?”

The company didn’t even bother to reply. She just vanished without a trace… good riddance. But why lie about her going on holiday? This wasn’t the only time colleagues were just vanishing without an explanation. We gave examples last month. In short, the predecessor and the current CEO are the same awful imposters, only the gender has changed, and some of the workers might say the current one is even worse. Worst ever.

Sirius Bribing, Lying, or Both (in an Effort to Silence Disgruntled Staff)

Roy did not take my xmas bribe

Summary: After ‘sitting’ on his own letter for an entire weekend the CEO of Sirius ‘Open Source’ LTD (not the newer shell, “Sirius Open Source Inc.”) decided to send a harmful letter, incorrectly asserting that former staff cannot speak about the company (that’s a lie) and even trying to offer money (which he said was deserved but was never actually paid)

SHOWING THE FINAL LETTER from managers — a letter regarding our resignation (not sent the day it was written; it was sent 3 days later!) — we want to demonstrate what a self-defeating waste of paper that was. We dropped a hint on the eighteenth of December. Now we have the almost full thing (more personal/sensitive parts redacted).

Letter sent to Roy more than a week after leaving:

Roy's resignation page 1

Roy's resignation page 2

Roy's resignation page 3

Letter sent to Rianne over a week after resigning (she did not say or write anything; she had done nothing):

Rianne's resignation page 1

Rianne's resignation page 2

Rianne's resignation page 3

They basically offer money we’re not owed. Notice how they said the same to my wife.

Here are the now-reused screenshots (redacted):

Sirius ‘Open Source’ letter

Sirius ‘Open Source’ threat

It’s hardly even ambiguous.

So, Mr. former/ex-boss, if you are serious about us being entitled to holiday pay after leaving, then why were those payments not made to either of us? Dodging the liabilities to staff again?

If we’re not really legally entitled to such payments, then you basically just lied in an effort to bribe us into silence.

Either way, this is really awful. And leaving the company run by a liar is a case of “good riddance”.

As noted above, there is no such thing as a “cool-off” period, so they are just improvising, making things up, flinging crap at the wall, hoping that something might eventually stick.

Regarding other stuff he’s trying to make up, a notice prior to resignation is inapplicable under the given circumstances. We left at the right time and they were legally obliged to respect our decision to leave, paying us for the days that we worked.

In this particular case, Sirius would be wiser to just say nothing. The above shows that the company either offers a bribe or is lying. It can’t be neither of those things.

The Shell Game of Sirius Open Source Inc.

Video download link | md5sum b197a526c46f992f5ebfa52d852853c9
Sirius Seriously in Trouble
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Sirius Open Source Inc. (or LTD or Corporation, among other past aliases) is running from one (egg)shell to another; we’ve provided a detailed summary of the company’s history and its darker secrets, seeing that it is abusing its own staff and lying to its valued clients

DESPITE veiled threats from Sirius ‘Open Source’ managers, we’ve finished publishing the entire report about the company and we will now proceed to covering several other scandals.

The video above is a relatively short discussion of what was posted yesterday, ranging from the dodgy new company (aside from a new shell in the UK there is another one in the US, named “Sirius Open Source Inc.”) to the company’s suppression of staff’s freedom of expression, more so after bagging money from the Gates Foundation (more on that later in this series).

Tomorrow we’ll show how the company lied to us in an effort to undermine this series. Either it lied or it tried to bribe us. Neither is particularly flattering.

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