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Nomis77

Suspended - Suspected Fraud

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Hi,

 

I wonder if anyone would be able to give me some advice please? I've scoured the net but am unable to find anything similar to what I'm going through.

 

To start with, I haven't committed fraud in my opinion, I've been stupid, but not deliberately criminal.

 

In 2006 I closed my company pension scheme. At the time the monthly payments were better off in my pocket. The scheme administrators sent me a cheque for £200 odd (after a few errors of sending the cheque to the wrong address and then losing the cheque in their system). They cancelled the original cheque that was lost in the system.

Over a year goes by and I receive another cheque from the pension scheme. Not knowing anything about how pension schemes work or how much I'm owed I think "Oh they cocked up again, this must be another installment" and pay in the cheque.

 

I'm soon after contacted by the pensions department to say the cheque I recently cashed was in fact the original cheque that was lost in the system and they need me to pay the money back. I initially agree to this and ask if I can pay it back over a six month period, that I would send them post-dated cheques. They advised that this wasn't good enough and that I had to pay back the amount in two instalments over two months. I told them this was not possible as I couldn't afford that. After a bit of pushing they agreed to three months.

 

In the same week I agree the three month instalment plan I find I bounced my last mortgage payment. I saw the mortgage as a priority and agreed to pay extra per month to pay them back, meaning I couldn't afford the pension scheme repayments.

 

I ask my mother if she can loan me the money, obviously she's upset that I've got myself in this position and gives me a cheque for the full amount I owe the pension scheme. I send it. The pension scheme lose it and ask if I can cancel and send it again. I don't feel I can ask my mother again for fear of upsetting her further. And I bury my head in the sand. Bad move I know.

 

Shortly afterwards my company face massive redundancies, about 40% of the work force. I contact the pensions scheme and let them know I am struggling financially and at the time don't even know whether I'm going to have a job after. This goes on for a period of about three months. The pensions scheme are now asking for the full amount paid back urgently. I know I can't pay the full amount or the likely instalments they will ask for. I bury my head in the sand again.

 

I should add to the above that during all this period, by team manager and even members of my team knew what was happening. I never tried to hide the matter because I didn't consider myself doing anything dishonest. I was just scared and didn't know how to approach it. My team manager (who was made redundant) didn't give me any direction in the matter either.

 

I am now suspended from work pending investigations of fraud. I had a disciplinary meeting on Wednesday and explained all of the above, that I wasn't deliberately trying to [problem] the company, I just didn't know how I was going to pay this money back to them.

 

The result of the disciplinary was that they need to do further investigations and that they would be contacting me today to advise me further. In the meeting they agreed that the term 'fraud' was too strong to use and that the pensions scheme hadn't mentioned to them that I'd offered to pay the funds back over a longer period which they wouldn't accept. However they did consider that I was being 'dishonest' by not staying in contact with the pensions scheme regularly and as we are an FSA controlled company, this may cause problems.

 

I should also note that my partner very kindly sent the pensions scheme a cheque for the full amount yesterday, recorded delivery this time.

 

Anyone have any ideas of where I can go from here or have a I dug my own grave through being stupid?

 

I've been suspended for a week now and it's driving me mad wondering what I can do to help my situation.

 

Help. Please!

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Nomis,

Sorry you have found yourself in this situation. Firstly, to call it fraud is inacurate. The pension fund made the mistake, not you. It really depends on how long you have been employed, but my guess is you will probably receive a warning, especially as the debt has been settled.


Please Click The Scales if I have been of help to you.

 

 

Kensington Mortgages withdrawn. no costs

NatWest Settled in full

Abbey Court Settled in Full

Capital 1 settled in full

Halifax settled in full :D

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Thanks for the response Ed1237. Looks as though I'm done though. I just got a second letter from human resources. The notes are not exactly accurate from those taken in the meeting, but they are now 'charging' me with deliberately withholding the funds for my own financial gain and also by discussing the matter with co-workers I am in breach of mutual trust and confidence provisions in my contract of employment. So now they have two things to nail me over.

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Hi

 

If the cheque you cashed was the origional one that they stopped due to being lost in the system then surely the bank should not of honoured it.

 

Also I thought cheques were only valid for six months from the date on them so again surely if you received this after a year the bank should not of honoured it.

 

Not sure any of this helps but just a thought.

 

Good luck


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Thanks for everyones replies. I was notified Friday afternoon that my next hearing is Tuesday morning, however I think I need to discuss this with an employment solicitor which I cannot afford to do until payday (Thursday). Am I allowed to postpone the disciplinary to seek legal help?

 

Also, am I allowed to record the disciplinary assuming everyone in the meeting agrees?

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hi

 

Do you have legal cover on your house insurance? If so you could get advice via them.


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Thanks for the response Ed1237. Looks as though I'm done though. I just got a second letter from human resources. The notes are not exactly accurate from those taken in the meeting, but they are now 'charging' me with deliberately withholding the funds for my own financial gain and also by discussing the matter with co-workers I am in breach of mutual trust and confidence provisions in my contract of employment. So now they have two things to nail me over.

 

But you haven't deliberately withheld funds, anything that has occurred stems from THEIR mistakes, namely:

1) losing 1st cheque "in the system"

2) seemingly not cancelling that cheque

3) then sending you yet another cheque

4) losing the cheque from your mum you sent for repayment.

 

I think your argument should be that whilst you accept you may not have handled the situation as well as you could have, the company has to be held largely responsible for the catalogue of errors that have occurred over the last few months.

 

As for the having discussed it with your co-workers, how are you "in breach of mutual trust and confidence provisions in contract of employment"? does your contract of employment state that you shouldn't discuss your pension scheme with anyone? That seems rather odd. You need to go through your terms of employment and find out where that is supposed to come from... I have to say I fail to see how you can be explicitly forbidden to discuss your financial business with whoever you wish to. :-? (that could make things tricky for your banking, for starters :rolleyes:)

 

Seems to me that if they start talking of dismissal at the next meeting, you'll need to make it very clear that if they try that, they'll find themselves in front of an employment tribunal pronto, as it reads to me they're trying to find any excuse they can to save themselves the cost of another redundancy... :mad:

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Hi thanks for all your responses, it really is helping me build up an idea as to what I can say in my 'defence'.

 

They've now however changed the allegation again....

 

They are still saying I withheld the money for my own deliberate gain, which is rot and can be disproved (they appear to have removed the 'breach of mutual trust' allegation from their latest letter) But they are now also saying because we are an FSA regulated company I break the fitness and propriety requirements:

 

Honest, integrity and reputation

Competence and capability

Financial Soundness

 

Anyone hot on FSA regulations?

 

Cheers

 

Nomis

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Just a couple of questions:

1) How long have you been with the company?

2) Have you been advised that you can take in a witness to these hearings?

3) Do you belong to a union recognised by the employer?


Please Click The Scales if I have been of help to you.

 

 

Kensington Mortgages withdrawn. no costs

NatWest Settled in full

Abbey Court Settled in Full

Capital 1 settled in full

Halifax settled in full :D

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Hi thanks for all your responses, it really is helping me build up an idea as to what I can say in my 'defence'.

 

They've now however changed the allegation again....

 

They are still saying I withheld the money for my own deliberate gain, which is rot and can be disproved (they appear to have removed the 'breach of mutual trust' allegation from their latest letter) But they are now also saying because we are an FSA regulated company I break the fitness and propriety requirements:

 

Honest, integrity and reputation

Competence and capability

Financial Soundness

 

Anyone hot on FSA regulations?

 

Cheers

 

Nomis

How does the story goes about glass houses again? :rolleyes:

 

Before accusing you, maybe they should be looking at how much they fulfill that criteria, because the catalogue of errors they have made doesn't bode well...

 

Anyway, can't help you with the FSA regs, but the change of tack just confirms my suspicions that they're trying to save themselves the cost of an additional redundnacy, so I would go in making sure to make it VERY clear that any underhanded attempt to get rid of you will follow with an ET sure as day follows night. ;-)

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Thanks again.

 

I've been with the company 4 years, I have been advised that I can take in a witness (and did on the earlier meeting with them) and unfortunately no, I don't belong to a union. The company does not have it's own union (apparently the last two people to try and set one up many years ago were 'made redundant').

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Hi Nomis,

 

Ok, here is the defintition provided by the FSA:-

 

 

 

show_instruments_icon.gifFIT 1.3 Assessing fitness and propriety

 

 

FIT 1.3.1 guide_icon.gif The FSA will have regard to a number of factors when assessing the fitness and propriety of a person to perform a particular controlled function. The most important considerations will be the person's: (1) honesty, integrity and reputation;

(2) competence and capability; and

(3) financial soundness.

FIT 1.3.2 guide_icon.gif In assessing fitness and propriety, the FSA will also take account of the activities of the firm for which the controlled function is or is to be performed, the permission held by that firm and the markets within which it operates. FIT 1.3.3 guide_icon.gif The criteria listed in FIT 2.1 to FIT 2.3 are guidance and will be applied in general terms when the FSA is determining a person's fitness and propriety. It would be impossible to produce a definitive list of all the matters which would be relevant to a particular determination. FIT 1.3.4 guide_icon.gif If a matter comes to the FSA's attention which suggests that the person might not be fit and proper, the FSA will take into account how relevant and how important it is. FIT 1.3.5 guide_icon.gif During the application process, the FSA may discuss the assessment of the candidate's fitness and propriety informally with the firm making the application and may retain any notes of those discussions.

Now the question is, are you personally regulated by the FSA? If not then it is not applicable to you. Secondly if you are regulated, then I would ask for the matter to be referred to the FSA (Including your statement of facts) for review.

 

IMHO I personally think that the FSA would find this a trivial matter and therefore not find you unfit.

 

If they refuse to take this course, then I agree with Bookworm where she stated that you should make them brutually aware that you will take this to an ET.

 

Hope this helps a bit.

 

ED


Please Click The Scales if I have been of help to you.

 

 

Kensington Mortgages withdrawn. no costs

NatWest Settled in full

Abbey Court Settled in Full

Capital 1 settled in full

Halifax settled in full :D

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Hi there,

 

On face value it looks like they have a very weak claim, they seem to be exploiting your naiveness, get acas involved and I think you will find they quickly sharpen their pencil.

 

Acas - How can we help?

 

It may be worth "casually" asking your mum to check that the cheque wasn't presented - it sounds like your company doesn't have a clue - you never know, you may find its been banked and they cocked up again.:)

 

Anyway - they made you aware you owed them money, you paid up after a slight delay, they cocked up, you're now not in a possition to repay in full.

 

YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG!!!! - Its definatly not fraudulant

 

But please don't bury you're head in sand, i know its easier said than done but it could be mis-interpreted (as you've found out to your detriment)

 

GOOD LUCK

 

Chris

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Additional

 

Thinking about it, they may have cashed the cheque you know....

 

If i wrote a cheque for £200ish I'd certainly know pretty soon if it wasn't cashed. I'm sure your mum would have mentioned it

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Hi All,

 

Just a quick update to let know what happened in the end. With help from a solicitor and the advice offered to me on this forum (thank you!) I put up quite a good fight. I went through two hearings in the end with different people.

 

Unfortunately, as the solicitor told me would probably happen, I was 'believed' to be guilty. Unlike in common law, the employer doesn't have to prove guilt beyond doubt, only to have a belief of guilt. Makes it a bit easier for them to get rid of people doesn't it!

 

However I must have put up a reasonable fight as they offered me a choice of being sacked for gross misconduct or another job, delivering the post (although I'm not actually allowed to open the post because it might contain cheques! Excuse my language but how f*ckin insulting!)

 

This was a very hard choice believe it or not. I was quite high up within the company and too deliver the post to people I was once in charge of was thoroughly demeaning. But I swallowed my pride and returned to work to do the job.

 

(I'm going to give a bit more background here to explain what happened next. A couple of days before the disciplinary procedure started, we buried my Grandmother who I was extremely close to. She was more of a mother to me as kid than my real (working) Mum and I was very upset. I never really got to grieve because the disciplinary started.

 

After I found out that I had got the post tech job, my partner of three years moved back to her parents, saying she couldn't take the stress anymore of all the things that had happened over a period of 6 months. I still don't really understand this to be honest.)

 

So, I'm back at work for about 2 weeks and I phone my partner one morning before work to see how she is and her Mum tells me she tried to do 'something stupid'. Of course this through me in to a total spin and the first thing I want to do is be with her. She tells me it's not a good idea and so I go in to work. I'm really struggling by now and I can't seem to stop wheeping (not so that anyone else would notice, I'm a bloke by the way).

 

I think it's probably a good idea to speak to my new Manager as I'm really struggling to concentrate and ask her if I can have 5 minutes of her time. Properly crying now I tell her about my partner moving out and that she had tried to hurt herself this morning and I don't know what to do. My new manager essentially tells me it's my own fault and that I should step back and lick my wounds and just see what happens. And by the way, the bigger boss (who carried out my second disciplinary) wants to see me at 10am.

 

Slightly stunned and not feeling at all better I go and see the bigger boss, who has HR sitting with her. I'm accused of speaking to people about my disciplinary and why I'm now a post tech and they consider this, again, a breach of confidence and are considering a further disciplinary! She also said she couldn't believe how naive I was.

 

Now I'm a fairly popular guy at work. I'm one of those nice/placid/helpful people. I got so much support from colleagues when I got back to work I was stunned. Everyone knew I had been buggered over. Especially as two other managers had also mysteriously disappeared around the same time as I did. Two of my closest friends work there and they were the only ones that knew what happened, other than my rep from the meetings).

 

So, I walked out. Before I knew it I was on the train home. I called my manager to tell her that I would be seeing the Doc to be signed off with stress and I would be handing in my notice the next day as it was fairly apparent the company didn't want me. She replied "Ok".

 

In the end, I was signed off with depression and anxiety and I didn't hand in my notice (after several people pursauding me this was a bad idea)

 

I kept breaking down at home and totally lost the plot. The anti-depressants the doc has given me don't seem to work, but the counselling helps.

 

I return to work tomorrow after two months off and I'm dreading it (I have been applying for jobs whilst off but with no luck). I spoke to my manager this morning (didn't even get a "how are you") and suggested that as I had a few days holiday left that I take Thursday and Friday as holiday and start fresh on Monday. She suggested using them to work half days on Thurs and Fri to ease myself back in gradually, which I understand the logic off. But the thought of going back there is absolutely terrifying to me and I'm once again really considering handing in my notice first thing, just so I have some hope of not having to go back there one day.

 

Anyway, sorry for the length, it just helps me to write all of this stuff out as it gets it clear in my mind should it need to be repeated in the future i.e. Tribunals.

 

One other thing I would like advice on is confidentially.

 

I used to be quite friendly with my new manager. When I decided I was going to take the job I phoned her up at home and told her exactly what had happened and why I was going to be working for her. The upper management hadn't told her. I reassured her that just because it was a demotion for me it didn't mean that I wouldn't do the job to the best of my ability. As far as I am concerned I spoke to her about this in confidence, but I later found out that she had then spoken to the bigger boss about it (as mentioned above). What I can't understand is that I'm apparently not allowed to tell anyone about what happened (though I did not sign anything to say I wouldn't), but if I do and then they speak to someone else, it's not a breach of confidentiality on their part!

 

Thanks for listening.

 

Nomis

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Hi Norris,

 

This is not something I know a huge amount about, however in a previous life I did take an employer to an industrial tribunal for constructive dismissal. It was a long time ago so things have probably changed but i would suggest that you contact the Citizens Advice Bureau as i found them extremely helpful and they may take the view that this is constructive dismissal.

 

Good luck

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