When autonomy is given to one individual – especially in a financial capacity – there is the opportunity for theft and fraud to go undetected for very long periods of time.
Our Oxford-based client passed such autonomy to an accounts officer in whom he had complete faith and every month he would receive the bank statements from the accounts officer to inform him of the current financial position of his company. Upon closer inspection due to a potential business merger, our client requested another set of statements from his bank. Subsequently, he found out that there were substantial differences in the figures and payments on the statement from the bank compared to those supplied by his account officer.
Expert Investigations were requested to conduct an enquiry into the potential fraudulent activity. The investigation included interviewing members of staff, data mining computers for deleted data and analytical research in relation to finances. It was established that over a three-year period the accounts officer had stolen £400,000 from the company.
Fraudulent bank statements were altered, therefore allowing the commission of the theft by the accounts officer logging onto the internet banking system, cutting and pasting the statements into a Word document and then fraudulently altering 15 pages of statement each month. These statements were then submitted via email to the Managing Director who thought he was looking at genuine bank statements. Whereas he was looking at a balance of £350,000 the actual balance was £26,000.
The accounts officer had systematically doctored all the pages every month, transferring monies into his own account and making large cash withdrawals. This included payments shown on the ledger to be to HMRC, when the transfer was actually to a car dealership for a high value car. The lawfully produced file was handed to the police for the arrest and prosecution of the accounts officer and then the recovery under the Proceeds of Crime Act to the further sum of £400,000 was returned to the Managing Director.