Compliance Lessons From Star Wars – Lies

With the pending release of Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, I’m joining Tom Fox in tying compliance and the Star Wars franchise together in posts this week.

I’ve always been trouble by the lie from Obi Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker:

“Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father.”

It’s the little lies that lead to bigger lies and bigger problems. Some of the ponzi schemes I see start with a sponsor telling a little lie about performance results. Then the sponsor is trapped chasing those untrue returns. That leads to bigger lies and bigger problems as the deficit between actual results and fictional results grow.

We saw the little lie growing with Bernie Madoff. Decades ago he missed his returns and lied about them. At some point he just gave up and didn’t pretend to chase the returns anymore. That became to a multi-billion dollar deficit between actual results and the fictional results he told investors.

Plenty of ponzi schemes are formed as frauds from the outset as a way to separate people from their money.  They start off with outlandish returns and promises of guaranteed results. There is a subset of these frauds that had started out with good intentions but misstep into these little lies that lead to downfall.

Obi Wan’s lie to Luke sends Luke into an ill-chosen battle with Darth Vader. Luke is seeking revenge for the death of his father. Things don’t go well for Luke in a battle against one of the fiercest warriors in the galaxy.

The cynic in me might point out that the lie was not intentional. Behind-the-scenes lore of the Star Wars franchise tells us that the plot turn in Empire Strikes Back, and told further in Episodes II and III, may not have been envisaged when Star Wars was made. For the pure of heart, we can assume the Kenobi was just trying to protect Luke from the truth.