Stealing from the boss: who is looking?

Publication Date04 Jul 2016
AuthorPeter John Lenz,Adam Graycar
SubjectAccounting & Finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial crime
Stealing from the boss:
who is looking?
Peter John Lenz
Flinders Business School, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, and
Adam Graycar
School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University,
Adelaide, Australia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discover organisational governance lessons that emerge
from the unique facts and characteristics of one signicant corporate fraud in Australia.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were triangulated between a primary loss adjustment le
with multiple commercial and legal secondary sources. The data were analysed and conclusions were
inductively drawn as part of a master’s degree research project.
Findings – White-collar crime takes many forms but it is rare for a medium-sized ASX listed company
to be defrauded of Aus$22 m without anybody noticing. Narrative ndings reveal the dynamics of the
fraud and the weaknesses in corporate governance. This paper outlines the processes of detection and
control. It provides several lessons for organisational governance that could prevent similar
occupational frauds in the future.
Research limitation/implications – This unique fraud case has facts which are not necessarily
typical of fraud in general. Anonymity in the case seeks to preserve the identities of the parties, but may
in fact limit the potential for transparent discussion.
Social implications While detecting and investigating occupational fraud has benets for
practitioners and commentators, there are extensive direct and indirect social costs associated with this
Originality/value – The value of this case lies in revealing details of how a signicant fraud was
perpetrated so that fraud investigators, accountancy professionals, academics and students can benet
from lessons learned.
Keywords Embezzlement, Occupational fraud, Fraud triangle, Gambling, EFT payments,
Opportunities to commit fraud
Paper type Research paper
1. Description of the fraud
About a decade ago, Aus$22,447,500 went missing from an Australian company which
will be called “Inattentive Corporation”. The fraud was perpetrated over a two-year
period by the Chief Financial Ofcer, who will be called Mr Tab Punter, but nobody
seemed to notice. The company continued as normal and the external auditors (a major
accounting rm) issued an unqualied opinion that no material errors or fraud
misstated the nancial report.
Peter Lenz wishes to acknowledge the insight and assistance generously given by Professor
Graycar in the preparation and writing of this paper. Any errors may be attributed solely to Peter
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Stealing from
the boss
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.23 No. 3, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-09-2015-0053

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