Staff on the road collecting money? Have control systems in place.

POSTED: 06/29/14 5:03 PM

Is our justice system failing our crime victims? That question bubbled to the surface after the trial of a man who is a suspect in an armed robbery at the Tamarind Hotel that took place last year. One of the robbers hit a security guard on the back of his head and when the man was unconscious, they left him for dead and stole a motor bike from the premises.

The defendant is a 23-year old man who is looking at a 10-year prison sentence. On July 16 we will know for how long he will go down – or if he will go down at all. Let’s not forget the presumption of innocence here.

Part of this sentence is that the defendant has to pay $6,500 to the owner of the stolen bike. It is not difficult to figure out how this will pan out. The owner of the bike will end up with a worthless court ruling, even when the defendant is convicted. Whether he gets 10 years, 8, or 6 is irrelevant to this part of the case.

As long as the defendant is behind bars, the bike-owner will not see a penny of his $6,500. When the defendant gets out of jail, he won’t see a penny either, because the culprit will be penniless. Oh, of course, in case he is going to receive welfare, the bike-owner could pinch a few guilders from him every month, but that is going to be a long and extremely irritating process. All that time the bike-owner is left to his own devices. Before the theft he had a bike, now he has nothing.

Similar thoughts apply to the case of the comedian whose detention was suspended yesterday. If he is found guilty of embezzling $60,000 from his employer, said employer will no doubt join the criminal procedures as the injured party and demand compensation.

Let’s assume that the court returns a guilty verdict and sentences the comedian to repay his now former employer. Embezzlement seldom ends with unconditional prison sentences, so we assume that the comedian will remain on the outside of Pointe Blanche. He may get a conditional prison sentence – the condition being that he repays what he stole.

The comedian finds himself here in double jeopardy. He is a semi-public figure, so it will be tough for him to find employment ever again on the island. But say that he does find a little job somewhere, and let’s says this job pays him minimum wages.

If from that measly income he manages to repay $100 every month he is a real champ – especially if he sticks to such a repayment schedule which is, given his history, doubtful at best.

If we set the annual interest the company could have made on the sixty grand at 3 percent, it means that the principal would yield $1,800 per year. Readers will see where this is going: even with a regular repayment of $100 a month, the company would fall short $600 on interest-losses alone, let alone that it will ever see a penny back from the embezzled money.

All this seems to put embezzlers at an unfair advantage. If the money they steal is gone (be it on women, drugs, or gambling) the victims will have a hard time receiving compensation in hard currency. To be exact: victims simply have to bite the bullet, accept the losses and move on.

The question we have is how it is possible for someone to embezzle that much money. Somewhere something ain’t right with the checks and balances within the victim’s company. That could very well be the defense-argument when the case comes to court: the opportunity created the thief.

It is however too easy to just blame a company for inadequate control systems – that is not the purpose here. But we use this opportunity to send a message to all companies on the island that have staff on the road collecting money for them. Make sure your control systems are airtight. If they are not, your money will magically disappear and you will never see it again.

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