Experts said the disappearance of £400,000 from the Milk Development Council (MDC) indicated insufficient checks and balances, and prompted calls for finance officials in the public sector to re-evaluate their control systems.
Patrick Morris, a former finance manager of the MDC, was sentenced last month to two years in jail after admitting false accounting to hide his misappropriation of funds. He had been authorised as sole signatory of cheques up to £1,000 and was able to print cheques in his office.
Alex Plavsic, head of fraud at KPMG, said: ‘Most companies believe they will be OK if they set limits on sums signed for quite low, but all it means is that people understand it’s below the eye level of the organisation.’
The Treasury said that banning sole signatories for cheques would be overly bureaucratic. But Peter Smith, head of forensic accounting services at Dickinson Dees, agreed there was cause for concern, adding: ‘Government should be ensuring it adheres to best accounting practice and implements an anti-fraud culture.’
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