How many of us can honestly say that we have never, for our own benefit, used our employer’s goods, stationery, stamps, pens, phone or time?
Maybe we have taken an odd day off as paid sick-leave when this was not strictly true. These are often considered perks of the job.
A job done at home by a tradesman ‘on the cheap’ for cash may in strict legal fact be a conspiracy to defraud HMRC!
We easily forgive ourselves these little misdemeanours, by saying “everyone does it”
We still consider ourselves to be honest and honourable citizens.
Largescale frauds; bank and city scandals, are often just seen as the perks and pickings writ large in the mind of the perpetrators.
Many years ago I worked in the West End of London as an accountant for an upmarket jewellery retailer. The shop was open on a Saturday when most of the office staff were absent. One of the cashiers offered to work every Saturday to the delight of the other cashiers who were thus spared this unpopular task. She hit upon a ‘nice little earner’.
Many of the customers were American tourists who would pay in dollar notes
She would give them the tourist rate for their dollars that they would get at a currency exchange. She opened a dollar bank account and converted the dollars back to sterling at commercial rates and pocketed the difference.
She got away with this for quite a while and when caught, said she could not see what she had done wrong as the shop had been paid in full for the items, and the customer had paid no more than they would of if they had exchanged their currency first.
Many an ‘inside knowledge trader’ or miss-selling bank employee would see their misdemeanours in a similar light. Her employers, of course, saw it differently, talked of ‘fraudulent conversion’ and fired her.
They said she had no right to make a secret profit from her employment
Perhaps they thought they were entitled to any ‘fraudulent conversion’ going!
So am I condoning fraud, miss-selling or any other financial irregularities? No of course not! I’m just saying that we are all corrupt, it is just a matter of the degree!
I think the warning light for us all is when we take any action covertly.
Large passenger liners are plagued by vermin and it is almost impossible to eliminate the cockroaches and other critters that are brought aboard with supplies and other baggage.
Vermin are brought down to manageable proportions when they get out of control by poisoning and traps, they are never eliminated.
So we are stuck with the leapfrog of new ways to make a dishonest pound, constantly being discovered and new rules being devised to counter the problem when it gets out of control.
Is this the sensible and time honoured way, and nothing to worry about?
Is this just one more proof of Darwinism in action?
For more information on how Holmes Accountancy can help you and your business, email or call Susan Hayhoe on email@example.com or 01908 315 716.
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