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Adriana  Sanford

Adriana Sanford

Cyber Security Expert, International Whistleblower, International TV Commentator, Strategic International Consultant & Author


Following an abduction while on company business, international whistleblower Dr. Adriana Sanford has distinguished herself by educating executives, thousands of college students, and the public at large on global threats and the dangers of corporate corruption. The international television commentator appears regularly as a CNN analyst/contributor to over 49 million households in the United States and Latin America. Read More >

Dr. Sanford is frequently described as “an audience grabber” and as having “the unique ability to speak to students, captains of industry, and academicians all in the same audience." With fluency in four languages, she serves as a keynote to leading think tanks, non-profits, and multinationals in the U.S. and Latin America, including the keynote in Mexico City for one of the largest IT, telecom, technology and security conferences in Latin America for Spanish-speaking professionals specializing in audit, security, cyber ethics, cybersecurity, governance and IT risk. Last year, Dr. Sanford provided keynote addresses in Chile for Corporación de Estudios para Latinoamérica (CIEPLAN), which is one of Latin America's leading think tanks. Over the last decade, she has lectured at more than 130 industry conferences and fora and worked with a broad range of global organizations to foster responsibility within the private sector and encourage foundations of trust and integrity in foreign markets, including global entities such as Institute for Supply Management and Rotary International. Her one-day sessions and corporate training lectures through ISACA, ISSA, and RSA (among others) provide security, accounting, auditing, and legal professionals with CPE, ABA, and CLE credits.

Dr. Sanford provides high impact experiential courses featuring real-world encounters that demonstrate the complexities of open-ended situations and the severe consequences that may result from foreign jurisdiction non-compliance. Have you ever been on a path where no path you take is the correct path? As the former in-house counsel of a Fortune 50 company, Dr. Sanford warns that legal ethics rules vary in foreign countries and sometimes conflict with domestic rules, which places U.S. companies, executives, and in-house counsel in the legal and moral dilemma of deciding which laws and ethical rules to follow and which to break.

Dr. Sanford’s expertise is on global threats and laws at the international level, where possible outcomes for corporate non-compliance creates criminal liability and poses physical danger for executives and their in-house counsel in foreign territories.

Dr. Sanford’s extensive experience addressing international organized crime and linking it to corporate fraud, bribery clubs, and other forms of business malfeasance spans over a 20-year period, including an international drug cartel and an illegal scheme involving Russian loans that resulted in the arrest and 30-year imprisonment of her former employer’s CEO. Over the decades, she has handled multiple complex corruption and embezzlement cases in the United States and abroad.

When the pre-Snowden whistleblower later found herself in peril for uncovering illegal schemes that went far beyond taxes, phantom shipments and trade-based money laundering, she diligently protected her team. For the last decade, Dr. Sanford has followed a path of teaching and educating others with regard to these difficult issues, global threats, and their consequences. Within the universe of corporate legal ethics, her actions have been viewed by the public as a badge-of-honor and a model to be studied.

Although Dr. Sanford’s most recent situation is slightly over a decade ago, it remains a textbook case as to why whistleblower protection laws and regulations should protect corporate in-house counsel in cases involving international criminal activity. After uncovering several illegal schemes that included U.S. senior executives’ involvement with, or knowledge of, improper conduct to circumvent U.S. sanctions in the Middle East, her life was in danger; while on company business overseas, she was repeatedly placed in harm’s way facing bad actors that proved to be corrupt, unethical, and extremely dangerous. Physical harm had already befallen at least one team member.

An unfortunate result of being an international whistleblower was that she and one of her two senior advisors---her former ND Criminal Law professor who was one of the main drafters of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, received a one-month sanction from a state bar more than twelve years later, despite the fact that the revelations were for physical safety concerns and based on the advice of whistleblower counsel. Interestingly most of the information disclosed to the FBI, and the US and Brazilian regulators was never made public by the press, except for a Brazilian tax fraud matter that created criminal liability for her in US and foreign territories, if undisclosed. Dr. Sanford has continued with her efforts of combating corporate corruption and international organized crime by serving on the advisory committee of the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative, the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA, and as Lincoln Professor of Global Corporate Compliance and Ethics. Previously, she served as a delegate to the APEC CEO Summit, which brings together senior business leaders with the Heads of State of the 21 Pacific Rim member economies.

Over the last decade, Dr. Sanford has also had numerous articles published by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the International Enforcement Law Reporter that cover current aspects of global threats, international organized crime, and corporate ethics. With over 50,000 members in 100 countries, ISM is the largest institute in the world for supply chain leaders. In 2015, ISM adopted two of Dr. Sanford’s books (which she co-authored with Hewlett Packard’s Chief Technology Officer for EMEA and other internationally recognized experts) to commemorate their centennial anniversary. More recently, the privacy and cybersecurity expert co-authored a security book, Women in Security: Changing the Face of Technology and Innovation that is part of the Women in Science and Engineering book series.

Academically, Dr. Sanford has taught more than 7,300 graduate and undergraduate students in the United States and abroad, as a Georgetown Law Dean’s Visiting scholar at the Universidad de Talca, as well as at the business schools of Loyola Marymount University, Arizona State University, and Pepperdine University. Her focus on global threats, top-tier international law firm experience, senior in-house legal roles, multiple law degrees from Georgetown Law and Notre Dame Law School, as well as her two decades of practical legal knowledge in real-world settings on three continents has set her apart from other academicians and lawyers in her field. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

CNN Español Demo Reel

On Data Brokers

On Cryptocurrency

On Privacy Policy

On Data Protection

Should We Care About Privacy?

Speech Topics

Data Security, Data Privacy CCPA & GDPR: Complexities of Transferring Personal Data

Landmark rulings and new laws in the US and foreign territories have far-reaching implications on how personal data is being collected, stored, accessed, and used in the United States. As outsourcing and innovative technology continues to sweep the world, many small and medium-sized businesses are looking to one another for guidance on how to adapt their policies to suit the current environment and comply with Data Security, Data Privacy, upcoming CCPA, GDPR and variations therefrom.

Global Threats, Corporate Exposure, Ransom Demands & National Security Risks

Learn how to build awareness and develop guiding principles to combat global threats and navigate through the critical challenges in the age of terrorism. Product counterfeiting and human trafficking sabotage global supply chains, create barriers to corporate profitability, and endanger national security interests. The expectation that a ransom payment can be reimbursed sometimes facilitates the payment by executives; paying ransoms for cyber-attacks, however, fuels terrorist activity and encourages further attacks.

Senior Executive & Corporate Exposure in Foreign Territories: Surviving the New Security Landscape

Significant progress has occurred through the sharing of practices and lessons learned. Consistent legislation in geopolitical areas, however, is not always available. Learn how to ethically protect your company and your team against non-compliance when US laws does not mesh with foreign laws, as decisions may carry personal criminal liability or have strong repercussions on a global scale. Executives need clear guidance as to the way forward when the US and foreign governments fail to endorse consistent principles in the new security landscape.

Will Blockchain Technology Change the World?

Blockchain technology is transforming businesses around the globe. Learn why countries react differently to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.