Posted by Ola Mohammed Alghasham.
The world encounters cases where frauds are committed by white collar criminals. Executives whom fight against fraud are beneficial for the company. Although the board and management make strong efforts in composing fraud preventing policies, there are several behavioral, environmental, and fraud assessment elements which are ignored during the composition of such policies and their absence provides shelter to the fraudsters. White collar criminals often attain confidence from their role in the organization. This confidence gets transformed into arrogance which prohibits the criminal from applying organizational policies and rules on himself, as an employee of the company.
There is no doubt that the top management always looks for the creative and clever individuals as employees. They forget, however, this creativity and cleverness can be used against the company instead of in its favor. Employees with these traits can cunningly commit frauds by practicing unnoticeable unethical behavior. Companies should execute proper controls with the recruitment of talented people. The tone of top management can either promote or discourage the ethical behavior because it is supposed to set an example for the rest of the organization. The whistle-blowing attitude is shaped by the organizational culture. Moreover, an illogical increase in pay, without any improvement in the performance, allows the fraudsters to continue their unethical activities.
Board members and executives should identify the fraud tactics and fraud hidden strategies of these individuals to compose a fool-proof risk assessment process. Major warnings can appear from the financial data (e.g. unusual, frequent or large transactions), documents with missing or incomplete information or suspicious signatures, poor controls (e.g. lack of monitoring, poor reconciliation of accounts, lack of position to manage conflicts of interest), behavior (e.g. unstable behaviors, mismatched lifestyle with income, high expectations family, and job dissatisfaction). Management must implement strong controls in the day-to-day business operations to avoid fraudulent activities. The board must adopt a proactive behavior in the elimination or early detection of fraud by establishing an audit committee with full authority, monitoring transactions, promoting and maintaining an ethical environment, and composing a procedure for the reporting of fraudulent activities. The board must compose and enforce certain strategies to cope up with the frauds. The executives must develop an ethical environment for keeping the employees loyal with the company and directing the human talent towards the betterment of the company.
Ola is an graduate accounting major with a certification in forensic accounting at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.
Marks, J., (2012), A Matter of Ethics: Understanding the Mind of a White-Collar Criminal, Financial Executive, pp. 31-34. Retrieved from www.financial executives.org.