It’s one of the most common forms of occupational fraud: employees fudging on their expense accounts. In June, 2020, Lookers (London-listed company) warned investors they might be unable to buy and sell its shares from the beginning of July because of potential fraud on its books – confirming £19m charge to correct books after fraud inquiry. Whether through fictitious charges, fake receipts or invoices, or other improper use of expense funds, an expense account is sometimes seen as a low-risk, high-reward area for committing fraud. It shouldn’t be. If your company takes the proper steps to review expense activity and protect itself from fraud, expense accounts will no longer be a vulnerable area of your finances.
The experts at CRI® Group offer the following tips for bolstering your protection against expense account fraud:
1. Provide strict guidelines for credit card use
Often, expense account fraud is committed with the use of a credit card, with the employee seeking illegitimate reimbursement for various expenses. Detail how personal cards are allowed to be used, and require and review all receipts for claimed expenses. Also require supporting documentation (such as an airline boarding pass, for example) to ensure the purchase was used as intended.
2. Check company credit card statements carefully
In some cases, employees will use a company credit card to make a purchase, but then claim similar or duplicate expenses for reimbursement on their expense report. This is easy to catch if you carefully review company card statements and check them against reimbursements.
3. Ask questions
If a purchase seems odd or unrelated to business use, catching it early is the best way to resolve the issue. After too much time has passed, an employee might claim to have a difficult time remembering exactly what the questionable expense was for. If in doubt about a claim, ask for supporting documentation and a clear explanation of how the expense was used for a business purpose.
4. Implement a Code of Ethics for all employees
By including anti-fraud language in your Code of Ethics, which should communicate a strong anti-fraud stance and be signed by all employees, it will be clear that expense account fraud is not tolerated. Reinforce this with regular communications to employees reminding them that the company does not tolerate fraud in any form and offenders will be prosecuted.
5. Set a Tone at the Top
If the company has rules in place but senior staff aren’t following them, lower-level employees will follow by example and flout the rules, as well. All staff should follow the rules to the letter. Especially while on business trips with lower level employees, senior staff should set a positive example and make a point to follow the rules for business expenses.
Expense account fraud is a persistent problem in business, but it doesn’t have to be a crisis at your company. By using a common sense approach and some key prevention strategies, you can help ensure that your employees know the rules and are less likely to try to take advantage of company expense funds. For assistance in developing and implementing a fraud prevention strategy, contact us today or get a FREE QUOTE now!
Based in London, CRI® Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk Management, Employee Background Screening, Business Intelligence, Due Diligence, Compliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are, we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI® Group also holds BS102000:2013 and BS7858:2019 Certifications is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.
In 2016, CRI® Group launched the Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 37301 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI® Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organizations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.
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Zafar I. Anjum is Group Chief Executive Officer of CRI® Group (www.crigroup.com), a global supplier of investigative, forensic accounting, business due to diligence and employee background screening services for some of the world’s leading business organizations. Headquartered in London (with a significant presence throughout the region) and licensed by the Dubai International Financial Centre-DIFC, the Qatar Financial Center – QFC, and the Abu Dhabi Global Market-ADGM, CRI® Group safeguard businesses by establishing the legal compliance, financial viability, and integrity levels of outside partners, suppliers and customers seeking to affiliate with your business. CRI® Group maintains offices in UAE, Pakistan, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, China, the USA, and the United Kingdom.
Contact CRI® Group to learn more about its 3PRM-Certified™ third-party risk management strategy program and discover an effective and proactive approach to mitigating the risks associated with corruption, bribery, financial crimes and other dangerous risks posed by third-party partnerships.
Zafar Anjum, MSc, MS, CFE, CII, MICA, Int. Dip. (Fin. Crime) | CRI® Group Chief Executive Officer
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