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Would you hire the merely accused?

Kenneth Dundas's Profile

Would you hire for a senior financial position someone who stands accused of serious financial crimes but has not yet been brought to trial?


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Remember in the US your are "Innocent unproved Guilty", but...

Public company - no, bad PR move.
Private company - maybe, depends on the interview, my investigation, etc.

Becky Fuller
Title: Finance Manager
Company: Tierra Group International Ltd
(Finance Manager, Tierra Group International Ltd) |

I would suggest contacting your Legal dept, in order to write something in the hiring contract that states a trial period, or other language, depending on outcome of trial.

Kenneth Dundas
Title: CFO
Company: Celer International
(CFO, Celer International) |

Would your answer change if the accusation was of a 'serious financial crime'?

(Chief Financial Officer) |

Personally I would not. The risk to the company as well as your career and reputation are high. Maybe I am naïve, but I still believe in our justice system. There would not be charges filed, accusations, pretrial, etc if there wasn't some merit to the accusations. If this is that stellar of an employee and they are innocent, hire them once the charges have been dismissed.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I think your statement is a contradiction. Either your innocent before you are judge guilty or the other way. can't be both.

The is an old proverb in NY legal circles; that a Grand Jury could bring in an indictment for a ham sandwich for being pork.

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

I would not want to take on the risk. If they were found not guilty and this is the best person you can find for the position, I may consider it; but I would want to see the case file and the evidence of what transpired and why they were accused in the first place. To Anon's point. the policy obviously thought there was enough evidence to warrant a trial.

Laura Colony
Title: Controller/HR Director
Company: BioTech Company
(Controller/HR Director, BioTech Company) |

No. I have been in situations where I was asked to do something unethical (though not illegal) and I left, without a job prospect, rather than do it. If it was illegal, and I had done something and stayed, wouldn't that be admitting 1) I condoned it by staying, 2) I would rather have a job and do something unethical/illegal than be unemployed?

Even if I did stay and had nothing to do with it, am I not guilty by association?

But, interesting question.

James Scott
Title: Consulting CFO
Company: Early Growth Financial Services
LinkedIn Profile
(Consulting CFO, Early Growth Financial Services) |

Depending on the circumstances maybe, but only with a strong personal recommendation from someone familiar with the candidate who would vouch for her/him.

Randy Moore
Title: CFO
Company: SJB Bagel Makers
(CFO, SJB Bagel Makers) |

No. S/He may be innocent but they would also be more concerned with keeping their own butt out of the gray bar hotel. They would be spending a fair amount of time on their own defense and less time dedicated to the concerns of the business.

Jim Schwartz
Title: Corporate financial advisor
Company: Wabash Financial Strategies
(Corporate financial advisor, Wabash Financial Strategies) |

I faced this circumstance with a candidate a few years ago. My response was to conduct my own due diligence by investigating, asking questions of the candidate and other sources, assessing further and asking more questions. Then, given my risk tolerance, I made an informed decision based on what I had learned. Similar to many other circumstances we encounter in life, there will likely always be a degree of uncertainty in such matters. While this particular case has worked out very well, there is a degree of uncertainty associated with any hire. Had this situation worked out poorly, there would undoubtedly have been some "I told you so" responses. C'est la vie.

Accusations, suspicions and proximity do not equal guilt in spite of one respondent's assertion that "where there is smoke there must be fire." Our legal system infrequently sanctions, financially or professionally, aggressive prosecutors or enforcement officials who make trumped-up accusations about their targets or simply cast a ridiculously wide net in hopes of ensnaring the "guilty." Such officials, even though they are relatively few, often appear to have little incentive to admit defeat or error. For the wrongly accused, the only trial may be conducted in the news media. Attempting to restore one's good name can be a years-long, financially and emotionally daunting process that may never be completely successful.

(Chief Financial Officer) |

Some of my best friends are attorneys and one in particular is representing someone who was convicted of bankruptcy fraud but is probably innocent. My friend was brought in for the appeal and probably would have won the original trial if he was involved at the time. The government railroads innocent people sometimes.

Having said that, I probably would not hire someone who has been accused but not convicted because the downside is far greater than the upside. That may sound uncaring but it's reality in a world where there are plenty of talented people looking for an opportunity.

(Chief Accounting Officer) |

One hypothetical question I might ask the original poster: What if the act the accused was said to have done, had been undertaken by or in the Federal Government? Would it have been prosecuted in that case, or swept under the rug, as just another one of the scores of scandals we see pouring out every day from this administration in Washington? Maybe he would have even gotten a Bonus?

(Director of Finance) |

We have a similar situation with a non profit volunteer organization. We have a person who was named to the board in financially related position who is being investigated for mishandling funds. As there is no resolution to the investigation, we have kept the person in their position with their prescribed duties. We are tightening all internal controls and adding more checks and verifications to our processes to prevent any problems. (This all comes with new administrative people so it is being justified as being part of this change).
Once any investigation is completed, any necessary actions regarding this person can be taken.

Gary Johnson
Title: IT Audit Project Manager
Company: Colorado PERA
(IT Audit Project Manager, Colorado PERA) |

A real risk is that the person is found guilty, and becomes no longer employable in that position. I am aware of a CFO who ripped off a private company (and admitted it), spent a year in jail, and then is placed into supervision for the next 20 years, and is not allowed to hold any fiduciary position. Can't even work as a cashier at McD's because they handle money. Can I afford to hire someone, begin the investment with them in the role and then potentially lose them because they no longer can hold the position?
I would suggest that waiting is a good course of action, if you can afford to keep the position open and the candidate is an extremely good fit. Once the outcome is known, then you'll have 20/20 insight into your decision.

Randy also makes the great point that there will be other demands on the resources of the individual while the case is underway - time, mental, emotional and physical demands may be extremely distracting from learning and performing in a new position.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

"Randy also makes the great point that there will be other demands on the resources of the individual while the case is underway - time, mental, emotional and physical demands may be extremely distracting from learning and performing in a new position."

One could say this of a divorce, a house sale and move, a birth, a dying relative.


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