Avoiding Fraud and Fines, is usually not high on the list of things to be thinking about, if you are starting a business or taking a new role as a department manager or project leader. You are enthusiastic and full of positive energy, however we overlook the negatives or risks that could happen.
Why we need to be Avoiding Fraud and Fines no matter the size
Usually, it is too late. Disaster has struck! Outcomes could be:
Costs are added to your product or service.
An employee or client is injured.
Production is halted whilst you manage the incident.
This article looks at Risk Analysis as a starting point and then an example of an opportunity where a business can incur Fraud and then a possible incident leading to a Fine.
Minor Fraud can lead to Major Fraud
Fraud can be recognised as one employee transferring finances to their own account with fake invoices. This can happen from small volunteer associations to large companies. It can be employees helping themselves to the stationery supplies or the spoons from a restaurant! It may seem only small, but it soon adds up.
Don’t underestimate that minor fraud cannot escalate into major fraudulent behaviour.
Fraud & Fines
History has shown us many major disasters especially linked to the environment or death that could have been avoided.
Look at Exxon Valdez, Concorde aeroplane, or the recent Suez Canal shipping stoppage how that affected the supply chains. Thanks to Covid19 this has affected the World and how governments have acted quickly but a business has also had to adapt otherwise they will be affected by a fine.
SO WHERE TO BEGIN when it comes to avoiding Fraud and Fines
RISK ANALYSIS of the SITUATION
A business needs to predict what could occur and assess the potential causes and outcomes of those future events and the likelihood of their occurrence. You must establish overall priorities for controlling the possible causes of these events and plan how to deal with them if they do occur.
Fraud and Fines are risks that should be considered at the very beginning of business and then at least annually.
SIMPLE FRAUD ACTIVITY
A drawing or flowchart of the situation can be a good way to start.
Let’s do an allocation of PPE! (Personal Protective Equipment)
What you are about to commence can be deemed as an Internal Audit so you should record your findings.
Obtain the current financial situation for the purchases of PPE so you have a monetary amount to start with. Hopefully, your task will be to confirm it is relevant or that you have saved your business from financial loss or fraud.
Here is a list of possible questions you should ask as you investigate.
Do you have a written procedure for the issuing of PPE?
Who within your business has the responsibility of allocating the PPE?
How is the PPE allocated to an employee?
Is there written proof of the allocation and where is this recorded?
Does the person requesting re-allocation of PPE required to complete a form and sign for the equipment?
I think you can probably see many questions to be answered that could help you ‘tighten’ the procedure and stop the fraud.
Therefore, what you are doing is investigating the current processes and critically thinking about the issues surrounding the procedure that could be linked to the increased loss of finances and possibly fraud.
From this simple ‘investigation’ you may find many unanswered questions or steps that could require refinement to avoid the situation where it is possible for the allocation not to be noted and the possibility of siphoning resources out of the business.
SIMPLE ACTIVITY LINKED TO A POSSIBLE FINE
Two very important areas that this may occur are linked to workplace health and safety or the environment.
An employee is injured at work. They require first aid. Your first aid kit is not found. The designated first aid officer is having a day off work. No one is appointed in their absence.
Again, use the format of conducting an internal audit. But for this activity, you need to have access to the current legislative requirements for your business aligned to Workplace Health & Safety.
Search for the WHS regulations for the State where you are conducting business.
Identify the regulations for your industry.
Review the information that links to First Aid.
Ask yourself the questions, do we abide by these rules?
Do you have a written procedure for First Aid?
Who within your business has the responsibility of First Aid?
What forms/documents do you have linked to First Aid qualifications, purchasing of supplies, and the administration of First Aid especially if the First Aid Officer is absent?
From these two activities, you can see that by checking and recording your findings you have commenced your journey to implement a quality system that will prove to you and any auditor that you are conducting reviews of your system and identifying where you need to improve.
Avoiding situations for fraud and fines is invaluable to your business brand and reputation not only to your external customers but also to your internal customers.
How can you alleviate without having to add erroneous time and money? This is where a Quality System Specialist approach is invaluable.
It is never too late to start! You may find you are going to start with the current issue and then move into a full system review at a later date.
If you’d like help then contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.