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Embezzlement during employment (4)

Of all the articles our company conducts investigations on, article 322 of the Criminal Code (embezzlement during employment) really stands out.  Before going into the details of the case, we would like to inform employers on the difference between the article on theft and the article on embezzlement.

The main difference lies within the ‘element’ of both articles.  Theft always involves an element of ‘removing’. The perpetrator withdraws something from someone else’s ‘power’. Embezzlement is quite a bit more straightforward.  The perpetrator does not have to remove the product, since it is already in his possession. He just needs to ‘appropriate’ it.

Having a product in one’s possession does not necessarily entail embezzlement. Only if one start to govern it like it is its ‘master’, starts displaying acts of ownership, does a violation of the embezzlement article occur. Doing this with your employer’s goods (who trusted you to work with them) implies harsher sentences and is usually referred to as embezzlement during employment.

In this example, the case involves a shop assistant in need of money. After her first year, during which her job performance was entirely satisfactory, her employer detected a dramatic decrease in profit  during her second year.

At first, all personnel was briefly informed on this decrease in profit and requested to put in some extra effort to increase sales. At that time the client did not consider internal crime at all.

Soon though, fellow sales assistants started opening his eyes. They had been annoyed for several months once they noticed that their ‘colleague’ was bending the rules of ’mine and thine’.  The employer then went to the local police station but was turned down. They were willing to advise him, but informed him to tidy up his own shop.

We then started our investigation and upon verifying the internal till rolls, we noticed fairly quickly that the ‘lady’ had handled a surprising number of exchanges (including money returns?) during the past 6 months. In addition, the sales assistant also appeared to have quite a lot of ‘open cash drawer’ logs without any relating money transfer actions (modern cash registers keep logs on more than just receipts and expenditures).

Next we discovered that the sales assistant involved cashed up very frequently and then did not only deposit large banknotes. The curtain finally fell though, once the lady started keeping her own little account book and threw away the carbon copies in the company’s wastepaper basket (oops). We had meanwhile found six cases of embezzlement during employment and showed the ‘lady’ our findings. Lips quivering, she confessed to the proven facts, plus some more that we had not (yet) investigated upon.

It appeared she had opened up her own savings account, which could by all means have been her employer’s. The sales assistant concerned no longer works for the company and we supervised the dismissal procedure. You might wonder what the value/legal force of our report is..

Should the ‘lady’ decide to enter an appeal against her dismissal and request a verdict from the magistrate’s court, we can present evidence as expert witnesses on the contents of the report.

The employer successfully managed to keep his ‘dirty laundry’ indoors.  No mention of it in the local newspaper or on local television. Just totally honest and extremely solid investigation work in which our invoice appeared to be just a drop in the bucket compared to the final result and the repayment of the illegally acquired gains.

TIPS:

  • Take the key out of the cash register, to prevent tampering with the internal cash till rolls;
  • Allow only specially appointed members of your staff to make money deposits, only at times when the cash register contains a specific amount of money and only deposit pre-specified bank notes;
  • Keep an external account of exchanged items and make sure the shop assistant specifies which amount was taken out of the cash register;
  • Ensure there are no old account books lying about, slips could be presented to the customer as being receipts.

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Helpdeskfraude is an initiative of Bedrijfsrecherche Nederland. This help desk can help you find a solution if you find yourself a victim of fraud or if company fraud is suspected. For further information please go to www.helpdeskfraude.nl