By Brad Foster

There will be gaol time for the individuals involved in the alleged $40 million fraud of NAB – an ex-staffer and an external event supplier – but what lessons are there so that it won’t happen again?

Some wonder why companies put out tenders for events until something like this happens.

In 2018 police conducted raids at the North Shore office of event management company, Human Group, an accountant’s office, and the residence of the Human Group director, Helen Rosamond, following tip-offs from a whistleblower within NAB.

It is alleged that Human Group submitted inflated invoices to the bank for more than a decade that were approved by somebody working within NAB.

That individual is alleged to have been Rosemary Rogers, the now ex chief of staff of the ex CEO of NAB, Andrew Thorburn. She flew to Sydney in March to meet detectives and was charged with dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception and 56 counts of corruptly receiving a benefit.

As well as allegedly approving the inflated invoices, it is claimed Rogers received kick-backs from the Human Group in the millions of dollars.

As one experienced business event practitioner tells micenet, this is a classic case where a company has forgotten the basic checks and balances within their organisation.

“I am sure there must be procurement rules throughout NAB that staff have to follow in regard to approvals and quotes,” the practitioner said.

“It would be interesting to know if these existed at the top of NAB. They certainly don’t seem to have been followed.

“You should always get competitive tenders on a regular basis however much you may trust a supplier. It is the best way to keep them honest.”

And, we imagine, tendering every three or so years, would also ensure that prices quoted by incumbents are grounded in reality through simple comparison with others.

Our BE practitioner stresses the importance of seeing original third party supplier invoices and ensuring that there are more than one level of checks and balances in place.

This latest NAB case reminds micenet of the sentencing and conviction of Susan Mary Riley in 2009 who defrauded Tourism Whitsundays of almost $360,000 when she was the financial controller of that organisation.

Riley reportedly used money she stole from Tourism Whitsundays for a gambling addiction until the organisation was independently audited and her deception was discovered.

The money she stole was, at the time, equivalent to almost 25 per cent of Tourism Whitsundays’ annual income and resulted in four people being made redundant and the organisation on the brink of collapse.

Following the discovery of Riley’s deception the then Tourism Whitsundays CEO put new policies in place to ensure a similar occurrence could never happen again.

Riley was sentenced to six-and-half years in prison.

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