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It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that executives won't embezzle from the company. After all, they're highly compensated individuals whose concern about their reputation should keep them in check, right?
No. According to the Association of American Fraud Examiners:
Angela Morelock, CPA, CFE, CFF, ABV brings issues of fraud and embezzlement to the forefront. With over twenty years’ experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to identify and mitigate risk as well as remediation after an incident has occurred. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners recently put out the 2018 Report to the Nations. In it they identified over 2,600 real cases of occupational fraud across industries, amounting to a median loss of $130,000 per case. In over 20% of those cases, there was a loss of $1 million or more.
Because these individuals know intimate details about the company's inner-financial workings, they are able to not only steal money but make it difficult for the company to detect their activities. This explains why it usually takes at least 18 months to uncover complex theft. It also explains why the amount of the loss can be so high -- the length of detection time allows the embezzler to steal a lot.
And if you think this can't happen to a fortune 500 company, think again. From the NY Times:
Mr. Saikawa, speaking at a 90-minute news conference at Nissan headquarters in Yokohama, described Mr. Ghosn and Greg Kelly, a director who was also arrested Monday, as “masterminds” of a long-running scheme to mislead financial authorities. He offered few details, citing the prosecutors’ continuing investigation.
“I feel a big disappointment,” said Mr. Saikawa, who did not bow in deep apology before television cameras, as is customary in Japan. “And I feel frustration and despair, and indignation or resentment.”
Mr. Kelly was Nissan’s first American director, appointed in 2012, but had a much lower profile than Mr. Ghosn. Neither of the men could be reached for comment.