On the money with Gavin Hinks

Gavin Hinks, editor of AccountancyAge

The first successful prosecution has taken place and it turns out it was the
finance director that did it.

I say bad news, but it is, of course, quite right and proper that someone
should pay for their crimes.
What’s bad about it is that it happens to be a finance director ­ a man of your
profession who has been found to be on the wrong side of the law.

Though the circumstances of the case are no doubt interesting, what strikes
me as relevant is that Neils Jorgen Tobiasen, FD of UK security company CBRN,
could well give investigators the idea that they should be looking for the FD
and probing what he or she knows in any future cases ­ a very unhappy precedent
indeed to be setting.

Of course, there might be some justification for this view. Only recently a
very successful private sector fraud investigator revealed how, when called in
to have a look at the disappearance of cash, he and his colleagues often focused
on the behaviour of people with ready access to the cash ­ it’s a procedural
given to consider the accountants as obvious suspects in a fraud.

But a bribery case overseas? Surely that would be head of sales or someone in
a similar role like that, who would be the guilty party.

Surely the FD, back home booking the numbers, is not the person at the sharp

Now, I can reveal Tobiasen was also MD of the company, which does place him
in that sort of position, but I don’t think that will place other FDs, guilty or
not, beyond suspicion.

The fact is that, with the increasingly strategic role of an FD, why
shouldn’t investigators make him or her one of the usual suspects. There’s a
warning if ever there was one.

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