Combating white collar crime

When the Royal Insurance Corporation Ltd announced a Nu 1 million bounty on an employee, who absconded after embezzling Nu 91.6 million, everybody was talking about the reward.

It was a serious crime, but many made fun of the reward, probably surmising it to be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  The remarks were as brazen as how the said employee siphoned off public money.  Some wanted to take leave and go in search of him, some sought to share the spoils and not inform the police, if they found him, and some planned to buy a luxury car.  Nobody was serious.

The employee was arrested.  Without any information on how he was nabbed, the rumour mill went into overdrive.  The identity of the informer, should there be one, cannot and ought not to be revealed.  Meanwhile, the grapevine is churning out a lot of names, among which are his accomplice, an RICBL client who had absconded to Nepal, and a monk.

As it is a record reward on an individual, this will be spoken of for a long time to come.  But it is not important.  With more people linked to the crime, including bank officials, the offence is more important.  Even more important than that is for RICBL and other financial institutions to convince the public that its money is safe with them.  It is a big blow to the insurance company.  Right under the nose of the management, an employee had siphoned off millions of ngultrums over a period of time.

It may be a case of better late than never, but the management smelt something fishy, given the employee’s lifestyle, and ordered a special audit, which unearthed the alleged crime.  They should get due credit for that.

However, what is more concerning is organised crime, if it is such, as many more, including bank officials, are linked to the crime.  The accused is a supervisor, entrusted to oversee.  The two bank officials detained are holding crucial positions.  With public interest growing in the case, some are pointing fingers at management.  But we know that crime takes place even under the most stringent managements.

There could be a lot of checks and balances in management systems but, like we say, criminals will have many ways to sidestep these.  To a large extent, it boils down to the people in the system.

This is not the first time the two companies, RICBL and BNBL, have become victims of their own employee’s dishonesty.  Every time such things happen, measure are put in place.  This will not be the last time and such incidents could occur in other companies.

We can only be more alert to the new trends and make the message strong and clear.  There’s no simple way to solve the crime problem.  We can only hope that stern punishment for those convicted will deter others.

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