Ethics Case: Theft Reimbursement, Twice
I am the assistant controller at a medium-sized, not-for-profit organization. I hired a new accounts payable clerk three months ago?let's call her Mary, which is not her real name?and then I fired her last week because she stole $16,583 from us by altering six checks. Mary's primary duties were to key in all the accounts payable information, and then, after the checks were printed, to match all the supporting documentation to each check. She then took the checks to the signing officers. After they were signed, she mailed the checks and filed the yellow copy with all the supporting documentation in the paid invoices filing cabinet.
We pay each member of our board of directors a $2,000 honorarium. I prepare the list of the directors and how much to pay each director, which I give to Mary for inputting into the computer. Each honorarium check simply has the name of the director and no address or other information. We normally hand them to the directors during the meeting. Similarly, our expense report reimbursement checks only have the names of the individuals and no address or other information on the checks. We send those to our employees through the interoffice mail.
Well, after they were signed, Mary took four honorarium checks and two expense report checks, and changed the names on the checks to her name. All of our checks are printed on light green paper. Well, Mary used White-Out to alter the names, but she wasn't very smart. It was obvious that the names had been changed from the White-Out used and her name wasn't even the same font as the typing on the rest of the check. She took the checks across the street to an ATM machine and deposited them into her bank account. She then transferred the money to her family who live in another country.
I discovered the false checks last week when I was doing the bank reconciliation. She admitted what she did and we've had the police charge her with theft. Our bank was very apologetic and immediately reimbursed us the full $16,583. Our bankers admitted that the checks were so obviously falsified that they never should have cleared the bank in the first place.
Well, my problem is that, after I discovered the theft and before the bank reimbursed us, I decided to claim on our insurance policies. One of those policies is a check-protector service. Well, today we received a check for $16,583 from them. So, I took the check to my boss, the controller, and I was laughing saying that we've been reimbursed twice and that I was going to send the check back to the insurance company. Well, he said "No." He told me to deposit the check into a high-interest savings account. "We'll return the $16,583 to the insurance company after the court case is settled. In the meantime we'll earn interest on the money and since we're a non-profit organization we won't even have to pay tax on the interest."
He said the interest represents the aggravation we're going through. Well, there has been a lot of aggravation. The other accounting clerks felt terrible about Mary. They felt violated and abused because they had trusted her. We will also have to spend a lot of time with the lawyers and time in court at Mary's trial. My boss' attitude is that the interest on the extra $16,583 will cover all of these additional costs associated with the Mary fiasco. He also said that the bank deserves to pay the interest to us since they should never have cashed those doctored checks in the first place.
Well, I don't think that this is right. But I don't want to challenge him since I was the one who hired Mary. So, like, what do you think I should do?
1. How would you answer the assistant controller?
2. What advice would you give to the controller?
3. What aspects of the organization's governance process and/or internal controls were flawed?
4. Should the directors be told about the fraud and/or any other matters?
5. Indicate what preventive and detective controls can be put in place to prevent this from happening again
In the not-for-profit organizations, maintaining of ethical standards in the manner in which the employees are functioning is very significant. This ensures that the finances in the organization are not mismanaged leading to an organizational financial crisis that would dent the image of the corporation. In this scenario, it is imperative to state that corporation has not placed strict governing policies that will ensure that the employees undertake their assigned roles with auto most respect and honesty. The financial documentation processes of the company had not been met with the needed governing procedures that will ensure excellent management of the organizational funds. Through this, the operations of the company will be orderly hence increasing its profit making abilities. It would be important for the managers to give the zero tolerance to any form of theft in the organization. This should be met with the surety that any form of fraudulent actions in the organization will be discovered. As shown by studies, employees who hold be believe that they will be discovered incase they participant in any fraudulent action have lower tendencies of stealing company funds (Paine, 1994).
It is clear that the lacked ethical principals that would give guidance to the personnel on the proper mode of conduct in the organization. This is what led to the theft case in the corporation. To alter this trend in the company, job ...
Theft reimbursement for an ethics case is determined.