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Have you ever suspected or discovered unethical or illegal activity at work & what did you do next?

Answers

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Many many times.. Honestly it depends on the situation in terms of exactly how to handle it; but always call it out. Remember we should always do what's right even when no-one is looking. It is our duty to protect our employer from any kind of illegal or unethical behaviors that could harm others or the company.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Christie is 100% correct. As financial professionals, Risk Management primarily belongs to us. All risks should be treated the same way. Analyze, Report, Cure, Validate the Success of the Cure. Responding to unethical behavior is an HR issue. I can provide the facts from one perspective, but it is rarely an obvious situation.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Yes. If you are a licensed professional, your professional ethics will guide your next steps. The most common next step is to inform your superior. If your superior is part of the problem, then you will need to escalate the issue through the appropriate channels indicated by your employee handbook. If you find out that you have been accidentally participating in the fraud without realizing it, you may face responsibility, so you will need to contact an attorney to advise you as well.

One thing to remember in industry is that people remember accusations for a very very long time. So if you stumble on something or you are not quite sure, be careful to be sure you are right before you escalate. Nobody really talks about the downside of being a whistle blower, but it is very real. If you work in an industry without many employers in your local area, and you turn out to be wrong in your accusation, you may be facing a relocation challenge to find employment.

Many times you will be best served reporting your tip anonymously if you have that option.

Becky Warburg
Title: Contract Accountant
Company: Premier Business Solutions
(Contract Accountant, Premier Business Solutions) |

Earlier in my career I was asked by the owner of a small company to fill out loan applications. I was then told to increase the income figures to something "better". When I told her it was fraudulent to do so, she found a reason to fire me. Between the the incident and the firing I did consult an attorney and he told me to get out of there quick. The firing took care of that. Even though the salary was great, I needed to live with myself. Ethics should always guide you.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I have reported one case directly to my "superior" SVP of dept and second case I reported to internal / neutral compliance"ombudsperson". Doing the right thing has risks yet you want to stick to your values and do what is "right". Especially in US Global organizations, this becomes combination of ethical , cultural , and compliance/risk issues as US standards tend to be more "restrictive" (using this word "loosely") in comparison to formal policies other non-US companies may have in place.

Maria Marsala
Title: Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author
Company: Elevating Your Business
(Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author, Elevating Your Business) |

I came back from a visit to a branch office. I told my boss that "something was wrong" although I didn't know what that "something was". It just seemed like the manger in charge was keeping me all to himself, when I was there to learn how they operated. No other branch office manager had ever acted like he did. It seemed sneaky to me.

I told my boss who told me to tell his boss (who just became the head boss and didn't like me). The top boss told me that if I couldn't tell him what was wrong, that I shouldn't have told him, because he needed facts.

Five months later, we learned that the branch office manager was fired and he had embezzled $5M or more.

My responce when my boss told me about it was... I knew something was wrong... never would I have thought that it would be that wrong.

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