A colleague and I who work at Company A have been asked to update the website and description of Company B.
The relationship between A & B is that Company B is a separate legal entity owned by the same people as Company A. (I don't believe it's a subsidiary, but a separate company - not sure if that has any ramifications.)
Company B's business had been active for a year or so, but has recently been inactive for a few months. Now, my colleague and I have to update the online presence of the company to reflect a totally different type of business. We weren't sure about the reason for the change (or what exactly to write!) so we met with a higher-up who gave us more context (verbally¹) for these changes.
A client of Company A will be billed by Company B in an off-the-books deal made with Company A. Most of the deal is above board but a little lackluster for Company A: the difference in margins promised (but not written into the official agreement) are to be paid out in semi-regular billings made to the Company A client by Company B. In our higher up's (spoken¹) words, we're helping the client "Cook his own books".
🚩 Red Flags:
- ¹ The unwillingness to commit the context to paper.
- Higher-up also said that "any auditor worth their salt" would find this on the Client's side
- No actual (even nominal) service is to be rendered to the Client of Company A by Company B
- We're also asked to remove old social media posts from Company B; that makes it seem like less of a "pivot", and more like "track covering"
It doesn't seem like our executives would like to be challenged on this; the deal has been finalized for some time, and I imagine they'd lose face w/ the Client in a big way if they reneged now. If we don't do it, it's likely they'll have someone else do it. How personally liable are we, if we "just follow (verbal¹) orders" and help Company B mislead onlookers?