Human resources professionals need to balance risk and trust in assessing fraud liability as former Bexley council accountant is jailed for stealing £220,000

The role of HR in managing employee fraud is again under the spotlight following the jailing for two-and-a-half years of a former Bexley Council employee found guilty of fraud.

Michael Barry of Whitstable, Kent, was an accountant at the council. Between April 1997 and July 2005, he claimed VAT refunds amounting to more than £220,000 from HM Revenue and Customs.

He provided his own bank account number for the VAT refunds, which were based on figures he had invented and amended council records to hide his fraud.

Ben Willmott, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) employee relations adviser, told Personnel Today earlier this year that HR professionals had a fundamental role to play in combating fraud in the workplace.

“A balanced approach is required to manage the risks while maintaining employees’ trust. This applies to the delivery of staff training and awareness about fraud; monitoring employees to manage risks associated with fraud; and encouraging and investigating reports of fraudulent activities,” Willmott said.

The UK’s fraud prevention service CIFAS and the CIPD also launched a free guide earlier this year, Tackling Staff Fraud and Dishonesty: managing and mitigating the risks, to help HR professionals manage the risks associated with fraud.

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