Employee stole R70,000 per month for 20 years

ENSafrica forensics director Steven Powell said fraud, corruption, and theft by employees are rife at companies across South Africa.

Former Medtronic employee Hildegard Steenkamp recently made headlines after it came out that she had stolen R537 million from her employer, where she was an accountant.

Steenkamp started her 12-year crime spree by stealing R24,000 in December 2004. It escalated and culminated in over half a billion in theft before she was arrested in 2017.

The scale of her theft shocked the country, but Powell said it is common for employees to steal from their employers.

“We are flooded with cases of fraud committed by all levels of employees – CEOs, CFOs, financial directors, and regular employees,” he said.

The theft, kickbacks, and corruption happen in all operational areas, including accounts payable, financing, and procurement.

Powell shared an example where the perpetrator was a very popular employee of a company which extensively used courier services.

She worked in the company’s accounts payable team, where she created a fictitious courier company with a name similar to one of the existing courier services.

The only thing which existed for the fictitious courier company was a letterhead and a bank account.

“She committed this crime for 20 years. She paid herself R70,000 for 20 years, and nobody picked it up,” he said.

The company eventually discovered the crime by doing an audit comparing vendor bank accounts with those of its employees.

They discovered that the fictitious courier company had the same bank account as the employee, which ended the stealing spree.

Powell advised all companies to assess their fraud risk and do proactive checks to identify employees stealing money.

These checks should include lifestyle audits and an analysis of the vendor database and bank accounts of suppliers and match them against employee accounts.


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