2012: The Five Year Engagement – Stoller

Business owners should to take heed from a story in Lancashire, where an employee stole over £200,000, much of which was used to fund an expensive wedding and lavish lifestyle. The BBC report that a part-time accounts assistant forged over 120 invoices over 2 years, marking them paid and then sending funds to her own accounts. The small business concerned, employing over 20 staff and estimates that this has cost them over £300,000. The defendant has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
It seems that these days having a low self esteem is regarded as a form of defence, which appears to have formed an element of the court hearing. The defendant’s solicitor suggested that due to a low self-esteem the defendant “felt that money and all the trappings that money could buy would make her a more attractive proposition”.
The lesson for business owners is to make sure that you check the accuracy of book-keeping. This involves having thorough, sensible systems and controls in place, something that financial planners know a lot about (managing business risk as well as investment risk). The sums involved are reasonably significant and were gradually stolen over 2 years. It is worth remembering that the behaviour of anyone can alter dramatically under the wrong pressures. As we are in somewhat difficult economic times, it is perhaps more important than ever to make sure that you have proper controls in place to protect your livelihood.
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