Last week, British authorities charged 31-year-old Kweku Adoboli with a crime of almost unimaginable scope.
Adoboli, a trader at the London office of investment firm UBS, allegedly engaged in unauthorized trading over the past three years, bilking his employer and its clients out of some $2.3 billion.
Meanwhile, here in California, trusted campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee has been charged with dipping deep into the war chests of several of her clients – including Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representatives Susan Davis and Loretta Sanchez, not to mention the Los Angeles Democratic Party – robbing them to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Strangely, Durkee has long been a widely sought after treasurer among California Democratic officials, trusted by dozens of state, local and federal clients, despite having been repeatedly investigated for violations by the Fair Political Practices Commission over the past decade.
Experts on white collar fraud say that often the most trusted employee turns out to be the one with sticky fingers. Many business owners treat their workers like family, and may not suspect for years that their books are being cooked. But there are warning signs: balance sheets don’t add up, checks mysteriously appear or disappear, products go missing, employees suddenly spend like sailors.
Who has the keys to your company’s finances – and how do you know they can be trusted? And if you do suspect a fox in the hen house, how do you sniff him or her out? Have you ever been stolen from by an employee? What would you do if you suspected the worst?
Michael Spindler, member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and Managing Director, Disputes & Investigations at Navigant