Ethical problem?

CaroCrewe Registered Posts: 7 New contributor 🐸

I'm in a situation where a Director wrote a business cheque from home last weekend.
He was then off sick until Wednesday. On return to work he placed the chequebook back in the drawer and the stub indicated the amount & payee - no supplier invoice or further details at this stage.
I could see online that the cheque was also clearing the company bank account that day.
I received a phone call mid-morning from Bank Manager saying they believed they had a fraudulent cheque and it conerned the cheque above - the payees name had been altered.
I stated that I would have to speak with Director as although I could see the amount of the cheque corresponded to the stub, I had no other details at this stage.
The Director rang the Bank back directly himself and the Bank must have been happy as the cheque was not returned.
Myself & my assistant chased the Director for a VAT invoice as we were trying to get everything in to close October. He promised to get one.
By last Friday this was not in, and so my Assistant rang the firm and asked for a copy invoice. They knew nothing about our company and have not received any payment.
Yesterday an invoice was left on my assistants desk from the supposed supplier, with its logo & VAT number - in our sales invoice formats, not received date stamped, and it obviously didn't come in the post as my assistant opens incoming mail.
I'm not happy about all this at this stage - my attenna have been on alert since last Wednesday. I do not think that this invoice is kosher.
If I call the supplier again, they will get suspicious as due to our ISO procedures they've already been called for ISO 9001 information we require when using a new supplier, and also by my assistant.

Never had this sort of situation to deal with before - any suggestions/advice will be greatly received.
I did try calling the other Director this morning as I was going to discuss it with him. He's out of the office visiting customers and hasn't picked up any missed calls yet.



  • Poodle
    Poodle Registered Posts: 711 Epic contributor 🐘
    Hi Caroline

    Could you not ask them for an up to date statement on the account or a list of transactions between two points to enable you to audit their account in your books?

    I would suggest being very careful since you obviously have to work with this person and I presume he is one of the bosses?

  • deanshepherd
    deanshepherd Registered Posts: 1,809 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    How many directors are there?

    I'd be having a quick word with another one.
  • Rachel
    Rachel Registered Posts: 348 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Could you call the bank and get a copy of the cheque? This will enable you to see the payee before you act further
  • Diannew
    Diannew Registered Posts: 2,814 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Rachel wrote: »
    Could you call the bank and get a copy of the cheque? This will enable you to see the payee before you act further

    If you have online banking you can actually see the cheque's and who they are payable to on there..............
  • burg
    burg Registered, Moderator Posts: 1,441 mod
    I would be going with Dean's advice here.

    I don't believe at this stage it is for you to establish the legitimacy of the cheque. I would raise your concern with one/all of the other directors. At the end of the day it is the other directors who are being defrauded if there is anything going on.

    Once you have raised your concerns your role stops unless instructed to act further.

    At the end of the day if you go snooping around you may have repercussions.

    Raise your concerns with the other director(s) and then wait.

  • space_chicken
    space_chicken Registered Posts: 3 New contributor 🐸
    RE Ethical Problem

    Hi Caroline,

    I actually have to disagree with you guys. I don't know about the company you work in but at my company the directors are all fairly close friends and i think if i started suggesting one was bent my arse would be on the line!

    If i were in this situation I would find out as much info on the chq as possible and only speak to them as a last option. It wouldn't really be snooping, the customer has said the payment was not made to them so it's your job to find out where the company money is going and tie up the accounts.

    I suppose this depends on your relationship to your bosses and the company though. If you have a director or boss there you are quite friendly with that might be a better option. I just think it would be a better idea to gather up all the info you can in case it's all just a big misunderstanding.

    Hope you manage to sort it out!
  • deanshepherd
    deanshepherd Registered Posts: 1,809 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    i think if i started suggesting one was bent my arse would be on the line!

    Too true!

    I wouldn't quite be wording it like that. Main thing is that you pass it on to someone higher up the food chain who has the authority to make accusations if necessary.
  • CaroCrewe
    CaroCrewe Registered Posts: 7 New contributor 🐸

    A big thank you to everyone that took the time to reply, it is very much appreciated - it all helped me last week when deciding what to do.
    4 things to clarify from points raised:
    1. The Director are related - brother-in-laws.
    2. I have been there 7 years and have a good relationship with them both.
    3. I did check on both Business Master and Online Banking but I can't see that the payee of cheques is recorded on either - just the cheque number & amount.
    4. I'm the FC and its the FD who wrote the cheque, so the only person higher than me for situations like this is the MD.

    I called the MD Thursday evening and asked him if he knew anything about the company that the cheque had allegedly been written to - just in case he and the FD were doing something off the radar. He didn't know anything about it, and when he said he was curious and wanted to know more, I stuck to the facts and told him what I knew. He is aware what the FD can be like on occasions with personal drawings etc. He left it with me to raise with the FD.
    I spoke to the FD on Friday afternoon. I handed him back the invoice and advised that I was not happy to post it knowing 2 things that I did - i.e: a) the Bank phone call querying the alteration of payees name, and 2) the fact that when we chased for a copy invoice the company said that they had not traded with us.
    FD stated that he had signed the invoice off. I explained that if we had a VAT inspection and this invoice was picked out it could leave us in a situation we wouldn't wish to be in.
    FD said that he fully understood, that the payment had gone through (I still don't know who to) and that he would get other "backing" to support the cheque so that it could go through the books.
    He was perfectly okay with me raising the point, and although the situation is still not closed, and I will not properly get to the bottom of it, I am not having to post something I know to be incorrect.
    The MD is not concerned and so as long as I get appropriate backing for the cheque payment, and nothing else comes to light, I will let it go at that.

    Thanks again to everyone.
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Sounds to me like you've taken this as far as you can, raised your concerns and it would be best to leave it at that as continuing to question your bosses could have dire consequences for your future position. You've let them 'know that you know' and I'd imagine your FD will probably be less likely to sneak something through the back door in future. The MD may well eye the FD with future suspicion but that's best left to them unless you're truly within their circle of confidence.

    I worked for two rogue directors a couple of years ago and whenever I was concerned about something that could rebound on me, I'd write them an e-mail or even a 'warning' letter as we had a very informal relationship. Probably a bit OTT and beyond my requisite but it was just to let them know if they were gonna be dodgy to not treat me like an idiot and 'hide' it a bit better where it was completely off my own radar. The company crashed a few months later but hey ho, I did warn them and at least I left with a fairly clean conscience...
  • MILLY21
    MILLY21 Registered Posts: 59 Regular contributor ⭐
    Well done Caroline, you have dealt with that in an professional and effective manner.

    I have been in my job for 13 years and have experienced similar circusmtances, in my case one Director has been "stealing" from our company for a number of years, our MD knows about it and has put up with him for many years now for his own particualr reasons.

    I have refused to be party to his theft and have always brought these things to the attenion of my MD, now that is because my realtionship with the MD allows it but I have on ocassions bore the brunt of this frustrations and it really gets my goat!!!

    You would think as Directors they would at least try and play the game.

    Lets hope you don't get placed in an unpleasant situation like that again
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