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Monitor Group consulting firm files for bankruptcy in wake of Libya scandal

Muammar Khadafy was one of Monitor Group's favorite customers
Muammar Khadafy was one of Monitor Group's favorite customersU.S. Navy

The Monitor Group, an international consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has filed for bankruptcy protection in a Wilmington, Delaware court. The fall of Monitor Group was analyzed yesterday, Nov. 11, by the business journal Quartz which noted the company declared bankruptcy last week.

The financial management company, founded by a group of Harvard Business School professors, hasn’t paid rent on its fancy Cambridge headquarters since August and owes approximately $200 million to over one thousand creditors.

The once lucrative Monitor Group operation hit troubled waters in Libya where it courted Muammar Khadafy and lavished praise on the dictator in a bid to handle his public relations problems. The Monitor crew even tried to spin the torture of Bulgarian nurses for Khadafy’s regime and counseled Khadafy’s son on how to run Libya’s dreaded secret police.

A steady flow of so-called “thought leaders” made the pilgrimage to Libya from 2006 to 2008 while Mark Fuller, Monitor CEO worked on a flattering biography of the Libyan strongman. Monitor Group’s consultants then lobbied for Khadafy upon their return to the United States but without registering as foreign agents.

Monitor Group never recovered from the scandal and now hopes to be gobbled up by Deloitte Consulting to keep its high-salaried talent on the payroll. In its Libyan heyday, the company got $250,000 per month from the Khadafy government.

Long a darling of the Harvard Business Review, the bankrupt firm now is an embarrassment. Financial author Victor Cheng told Quartz: “It’s like having your mechanic get into a car accident because of faulty brakes.”

As Monitor Group turns belly-up, its management gurus will have plenty of opportunity to brush up on their strategy and marketing skills in order to save their own paychecks. In Monitor’s bankruptcy declaration the company said: “Monitor attracts and retains clients because clients recognize that its work is exceptionally rigorous, creative, and unconstrained by conventional wisdom.”

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