An investigation into an embezzlement case at publishing house Aschehoug revealed the company’s former Chief Financial Officer actually misappropriated more than double the amount of money first thought. Leif Marius Schatvet admitted to embezzling NOK 4.4 million (USD 740,000) in December, but the investigation showed the fraud was much more widespread, amounting to about NOK 9.4 million.
“The new investigation shows that the fraud has been going on for a longer time, and the embezzlement has a significantly greater extent than the former finance director himself acknowledged,” publishing director Mads Nygaard told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “The fraud uncovered during the investigation amounts to another NOK 5 million. The embezzlement was conducted in a cunning and carefully planned way which has been credible and difficult to detect.”
The five month investigation by Aschehoug, police and accounting firm KPMG uncovered another 21 unauthorized transactions between 2009 and 2011, on top of the fraud Schatvet had admitted to and the failed NOK 1 million transaction in December that exposed him. It found the fraud was hidden in regular transactions, including forged agreements with fake attachments, substantiated by false correspondence and signed off with false signatures.
“He acknowledges guilt,” said Schatvet’s lawyer, Anne Christine Stoltz. “Nothing has deliberately been held back from his side, such as he has explained himself. You can say it’s true that there lies some displacement in this.”
KPMG concluded Aschehoug has the same standards for internal procedures as in other businesses, that these were adhered to while the embezzlement was going on, and the fraud was extremely difficult to detect with normal internal measures. Nevertheless after two recent embezzlement cases, Nygaard said Aschehoug would be strengthening its training, notification and fraud review policies to make transactions more transparent.