Answer these two questions
While auditing the accounts payable of a large clothing manufacturer, you discover that four of the company’s vendors have checks sent to a post office (PO) box. After further investigation, you discover that one box is registered under the same name as the CFO’s son (age 3), and another is registered under the same name as his daughter (age 5). Finding this highly suspicious, you begin questioning the employees who work directly with the CFO to determine if fraud is occurring in this case. After searching through the documentation of vendor transactions, the investigation leads you to suspect that the CFO is sending checks to the PO Box of fictitious vendors to be collected and then deposited in his own account. Over two weeks, you and your engagement team compile a large body of evidence implicating the CFO in the fraud. After this evidence has been gathered, you ask him to come to your office for questioning.
Upon his arrival, and without wasting any time, you present all the evidence against him and ask him about his involvement in stealing money from the company. The responses you receive are defensive and antagonistic. The CFO says that he has heard that you and your engagement team have been “snooping” around the office, protests his innocence, and threatens to file suit against you for slander and libel if you pursue this absurd investigation that is trying to label him a criminal. Not expecting this reaction, and being frustrated that the interview is not going as you intended, you say that you have had enough for one day and cut the interview short.
What steps need to be taken before interviewing a person you suspect of committing fraud in a company?
What are some effective methods that could have helped in dealing with an interview subject from whom you are seeking an admission?
You are an internal auditor at Dunder Company. An employee of Dunder has phoned in an anonymous tip that a fellow worker, Jane, might be embezzling money. Jane has been a trusted employee of the company for 13 years; she quickly moved through the ranks of the company to become vice president over treasury because of her exemplary record. Your internal audit team has conducted thorough audits of her department for years and found its control environment to be exceptional. In addition, she is a good friend of the CEO and CFO. They have tremendous confidence in her abilities and honesty, and she is being groomed to succeed the current CFO when he retires. The person making the anonymous tip claims to have noticed large fluctuations in certain financial statement accounts. Accompanying these fluctuations are unexplainable debits and credits that were all entered by Jane. The person also alleges that Jane’s behavior has been erratic. She is usually kind and patient, but recently, she has flown off the handle for no explainable reason. She insists on balancing certain accounts herself because she claims that they are too critical to trust with anyone else. Finally, the informant believes that Jane’s lifestyle as a single mother is well above what her salary can support. Investigating allegations against such a trusted person in the company will cause considerable disruption. If you investigate, you will have to proceed very carefully, especially since you have only the word of one employee who could have ulterior motives.
What steps would you take to investigate this suspected embezzlement?
As a first step in your investigation, would you interview Jane about the problem? Why or why not?
How would you conduct Jane’s admission-seeking interview in order to be most effective?