Monday, October 14, 2013

Small Road Haulage Concerns - Beware the Enemy Within

Firm Loses Fortune to Dishonest Employee Who Walks Free
Shipping News Feature

UK – A cautionary tale this week for any company, but particularly to those operating small to medium sized road haulage operations where the costs for fuel and vehicle parts can represent a high proportion of turnover, many such outfits make the business of maintaining precise and well-ordered records one of the least important facets of their day to day procedures.

All such companies should know the value of record keeping, fail to maintain tachograph or test certificates, insurance, licence checks etc. but what if there is another hidden problem which lurks ready to bring down your business. A case this month highlights a danger the owners probably never even suspected until the situation had reached a really serious point – a dishonest employee.

This week a man working for a company which supplies vehicle spares pleaded not guilty to charges that he had not only stolen almost £170,000 of parts from his employers but that he had raised false invoices to a haulier who was a customer in a bid to cover his dishonesty. With the trial imminent, and despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence the case was dropped and the suspect allowed to walk free.

The reason? Simply that the paperwork within the offices concerned, and the system of checks and balances they employed meant that the crimes could have been perpetrated by anyone with access so no one person could be identified as being responsible. The charges for theft and fraud being dropped the prosecutor at Warwick Crown Court, Mr Iain Willis, commented:

“It is difficult to quantify what was stolen or whether it was ever delivered to the company which had allegedly ordered it because the paperwork was in such a bad state. The prosecution now take the view that there is not a reasonable prospect of conviction.”

Mr Willis elaborated saying that despite much evidence being unearthed since the original charges made in June, the poor state of the companies documentation led to the prospect that there were others who would have had the opportunity to indulge in the crimes and the suspect was formally recorded as not guilty on both counts.

So beware, a case such as this could see the employer face not only huge financial implications but even possibly the ignominy of a suit for wrongful dismissal despite the firm conviction that they knew who had robbed their company.