Criminal Defence: Employee theft

Criminal Defence: Employee theftThe Defendant was employed as a Financial Manager for a period of three years until her redundancy in May 2017.  She worked on a part-time basis for three days per week.

In her position as Financial Manager, the Defendant had responsibility for a debit card which was used to make purchases on behalf of her employer and was also used to draw cash to replenish the petty cash tin in the accounts office.

Following the Defendant’s redundancy, her replacement, who had taken over the responsibility of the petty cash management were unable to reconcile the petty cash withdrawals to legitimate expenses during the indictment period.  They notified the CEO of the company who subsequently commissioned a report into the petty cash by the auditors of the company.

Following their report and on the basis of this, the Defendant was charged with fraudulent activity. The Prosecution claimed that during her employment the Defendant made unauthorised withdrawals of cash totalling £67,000 using the debit card for which she was responsible. The Prosecution further claimed that a proportion of the unauthorised cash withdrawals were transferred abroad.

We firstly established that based on the evidence the petty cash administration in the office  was chaotic.  This situation may well have been caused by a further member of the finance team, who had direct responsibility of the petty cash tin and of maintaining the records on the petty cash spreadsheet and the Sage accounting system.  In view of the Defendant’s numerous other duties, the petty cash control may well have been dealt with superficially by her and she may not have been aware of the poor accounting procedures by her Finance Assistant. There was very little security over the petty cash tin, kept in an unlocked drawer at the company’s  offices, so it is entirely possible that the debit card was available to other members of the office including the Finance Assistant.

We also established that there was a second debit card that had  never been located and called into question some of the Prosecution evidence concerning location and pattern of cash withdrawals.

It also became apparent that it was unclear who posted the cash expenses on  to the Sage accounting system. Indeed, it was likely that it was the assistant that often undertook this task.

As far as the transfers abroad were concerned we showed that the transfers had been made from accounts held by the Defendant that had not been credited with any of the cash alleged to have been stolen by the Defendant; i.e. the transfers of funds abroad were made from legitimate sources.

We were also able to show that the Defendant had made the transfers well before most of the cash shortfalls had occurred. This meant that the Defendant had made the transfers from other legitimate sources. which could not have been part of the potential petty cash shortfall.

Thanks to the uncertainty that we had shown in our report, the Prosecution decided not to go ahead with the case against the Defendant.

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