Southland fraudster caught out

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 20/05/2014

Relevant offers

A Southland accountant who forged his bosses' signatures to pay himself almost $20,000 worked for Venture Southland.

William (Bill) Bates escaped detection for more than a year after the fraud, which occurred on November 7, 2011.

Venture did not notice the missing ratepayer money until it undertook an audit to determine what had caused financial irregularities.

Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said it had not been picked up earlier because fraud was difficult to identify.

"It was a surprise to us and disappointing a person of trust in a key role could do this. He let himself and the organisation down."

An annual report from Audit New Zealand stated Venture's financial statements complied with accepted accounting practice but auditors do not examine every transaction, he said.

Bates, who had worked at the organisation for eight years, did not have all the qualifications required, he said.

Venture made changes to ensure it did not happen again and had now employed a fully qualified accountant. An external report had suggested changes and more stringent monthly reporting.

The treatment of income and a change in format had now been introduced. "We believe we now have appropriate checks and balances in place to minimise risk," Casson said.

Following legal proceedings Venture recovered the $19,486.25 in full and was awarded investigation costs of $14,666.10.

Casson said the costs would be recognised as revenue and go back into the pool.

Bates pleaded guilty to dishonestly using a document, namely a cheque, to obtain pecuniary advantage when he appeared before Judge Christina Cook in the Invercargill District Court in December

At the time police prosecutor Sergeant Rob Mills said the unauthorised payment was not discovered until an audit in early 2013 because the expense had been labelled as "company salary".

At his sentencing in February Bates said he had fallen into financial strife.

He was sentenced to three months' community detention, 120 hours' community work, ordered to pay a lump sum reparation of $19,487 to his former employer and under arrangement, to pay $200 a fortnight for the company's auditing costs of $14,666 that uncovered his fraud.

Judge Saunders said the man had been in a position of trust and had not used his adult skills to seek help and professional advice when he got into financial strife. 

Ad Feedback

- The Southland Times

st strap Communites
Our E-Editions

Read our free publications online.

giveaway
Win with the Times

Win with us!

Stl paper logo
Subscriber services

Click here for subscriber news and information.

ST digital edition thumb
Digital edition

Read The Southland Times online with our digital edition.

Newspaper
Subscribe

Click here to subscribe to our publications

Special offers
Opinion poll

What is your impression of Invercargill's teens?

Friendly and helpful, a credit to their town

No better or worse than anywhere else

Not impressed with them at all

Vote Result

Related story: Letter: In praise of young people

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content

Daily diversions
stimes pan #stayclassysouthland

Cartoons by Chicane, aka Mark Winter

Quizzes

Today's puzzles

Reviews

Your Family News
Birth notices and anniversaries

Celebrations

View marriage and birth notices from around the region

Death notices

Death Notices

View obituaries from around the region