In May 2007, a local chemical plant had an unfortunate accident. Chemicals leaked from a plant holding tank and seeped onto the parking lot. A number of employee vehicles were damaged and required repainting. The company agreed to reimburse employees for the cost of these repairs. Employees were instructed to submit their bills for the repairs to the Controller, Rob Trout. Rob would then issue a check to the employee for the amount of the bill. While the Internal Auditor Director questioned the Audit Committee about the monitoring of the reimbursements during a meeting a month after the accident, the Committee determined that procedures in place were adequate. Nine months later, at a full board meeting, someone made a remark about the fact that bills were still being turned in for reimbursement. By this time, the total of the damages reimbursed to employees had reached nearly $150,000. After making inquiries, it was discovered that some of the “repairs” were for expensive paint jobs, upgrades, buffing, body repairs, and waxing. Further investigation revealed that thousands of dollars were reimbursed for paint jobs on cars that were damaged prior to the industrial accident. Moreover, some employees had turned in bills for similar jobs just a few months apart in other words, some cars were reimbursed for the same repair twice. Although this appeared suspicious, no one caught it until the internal auditors came in one year after the accident _in response to the board’s inquiry and reviewed the invoices and compared them with the employee list and cars repainted.
What steps should have been taken by the company to prevent this fraudulent activity from occurring?
How could information already in the accounting system have been used to minimize the opportunity for fraud?