Ralph Clark was the Director of Facilities at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, GA, comprised of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Alliance Theatre, High Museum of Art, and Young Audiences. He plead guilty to charges of embezzling over $1.1 million from the organization over approximately 8 years.
A few different schemes were in place. As part of his leadership position, he was allowed to authorize any vendor contracts up to $50,000. He arranged for kickbacks from vendors that totaled $168,000. He signed off on $780,000 worth of invoices for services that were not performed by his wife’s cleaning company. He billed $41,000 for services supposedly performed by students and $153,000 for services supposedly performed by himself after hours. It is unlikely much of any of that will get repaid.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “some observers in the city questioned [the organization's] management oversight.”
Read more about the case here.
MACPA is having a webcast April 2, 2013 from 1-3pm Eastern entitled “Internal Controls for Smaller Entities – Practical Case Studies in Design, Evaluation and Communication”. Cost is $79 for members and non-members for 2 CPE credits.
See http://www.macpa.org/public/catalog/coursedetails.aspx?courseID=1317W610 for more details.
Join Maryland Nonprofits and Aronson LLC Partner Rob Eby on February 21st for an informative seminar that will answer many of the most commonly asked questions regarding nonprofit accounting and operations:
- What are some indicators of fraud?
- Why is the 990 so important?
- How come these nonprofit statements look so different from for-profit statements I’m used to reading?
- Is my nonprofit required to have an A-133 audit?
- How do I implement internal controls with limited resources?
- What are contributions, exchange transactions and agency transactions, and how are they recorded as revenue?
- Is there anyone who can help decipher nonprofit accounting, reporting and best practices?
This interactive discussion will address each of these questions and many more. Click HERE to register today and reserve your spot!
Allegations of fraud or financial mismanagement of religious organizations has cast a pall on the vast majority of faith-based nonprofits operating with integrity and accountability. However, by working together to adhere to best practices, the nonprofit community can have a positive impact on public perception. Most importantly, a commitment to compliance and self-regulation will help you achieve your mission and attract donors.
Senator Charles Grassley asked ECFA to lead an effort to provide input on key policy issues related to financial accountability in the religious nonprofit sector. ECFA, in response, formed the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations to offer suggestions on how we can work together to improve accountability and preserve the great work that is being done each day.
Join Aronson LLC nonprofit expert Rob Eby, CPA on February 28th for a webinar discussion on these important topics:
- The Commission’s Findings
- Donor Engagement
- Administration of the Law
Register today to reserve your spot at this free and convenient online presentation!
Each year, one-sixth of the federal budget is dedicated to grants for non-federal entities, such as schools, local governments and nonprofit organizations. This $400 billion expenditure is highly scrutinized and requires stringent compliance procedures, including a single audit for many organizations. Failure to meet compliance requirements could result in your organization having to repay grants and/or losing access to future federal funding.
Join Aronson LLC on January 10th for an informative webinar where our nonprofit accounting experts will help participants better understand the basics of federal grant and single audit compliance. Topics will include:
- The Basics of Control Procedures in a Federal Grant Environment, including COSO Internal Controls and the 14 Areas of Compliance
- The Basics of Costs in a Federal Grant, including Allowable/Unallowable and Direct/Indirect Costs
This is a great opportunity to get a free lesson from our professional nonprofit auditors that just might help you protect the future of your mission, so register HERE today!
Be sure to visit and bookmark our events page to see upcoming topics that may be of interest to you!
The internet has provided nonprofit organizations with increased fundraising reach and unprecedented access to donors. However, as you continue to adopt technology, greater emphasis must also be placed on reducing the risk associated with it. Intrusion and data loss can jeopardize a nonprofits reputation and brand and raise concerns among donors. Join Aronson LLC on September 18th for a webinar that will introduce you to these important concepts. Guest speaker Jack Heyman of Your Internal Controls will discuss:
- Introduction to IT Security
- IT Security and Common Weaknesses
- Logical Security Weakness, Prevention, Detection and Correction
- PC Security Weakness, Prevention, Detection and Correction
- Internal Controls Testing in Support of Financial Statement Audits
Register today to reserve your spot at this free and convenient online presentation!
Guest Speaker: Jack Heyman earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Florida International University and a Master of Art in Information Assurance Information Technology from the University of Maryland. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM), Certification and Accreditation Professional (CAP), and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP). Jack also co-authored Identity Management, which was published by the Information Security, Audit & Control Association (ISACA).
|Date:||September 18, 2012|
|Time:||11:00am – 12:00pm|
Thomas Nelson was, until recently, the Executive Director of a York County, Maine nonprofit that provides services to low-income residents. It was a position he held for 21 years. He’s now awaiting sentencing after copping a plea arrangement in federal court, agreeing to pay restitution of $1.2Mil to the nonprofit and $150,000 to the IRS for tax evasion. He stands to receive up to 10 years for embezzlement, 5 years for conspiracy, 5 years for tax evasion, and 3 years for signing false tax returns.
How’d he do it? He arranged over-payments to a consulting company that gave him kickbacks and he also diverted money to a defunct nonprofit where he had served as treasurer. He used the money to pay his mortgage and cover gambling debts. There was only one invoice from the consulting company over the time of the collusion but it was for $8,700, not the $413,000 they were paid.
He claimed he avoided diverting federal money because he knew government funds are subjected to greater scrutiny.
The board has been reviewing its financial oversight practices and is “very disappointed.”
Read more about it in the Portland Press Herald
The August edition of the Journal of Accountancy has a good article reminding CPA firms to update controls that protect the privacy of individuals as well as other confidential information that may be in the firm’s workpapers and electronic systems. Their key points actually translate well to the nonprofit community since this is an industry that regularly receives confidential information about their donors (credit card accounts, bank account information, social security numbers, etc.). With all the effort of maintaining transparency, don’t overlook your organization’s responsibility to protect your donors’ privacy and security.
The article suggests: “Identify and classify the types of information the firm maintains.” As a nonprofit organization, can you identify categories of information that flows through your systems whether it is restricted, confidential, sensitive, or ok to be public? You are required to disclose major donors as well as anyone you paid grants or scholarships out to, but have you taken steps to keep their credit card numbers or social security numbers private and secure?
“Assess your current controls/Upgrade protection strategies.” Where would the weak link be in your chain of ownership of sensitive information? Do volunteers have open access to files with donor information? Do employees ever carry information on transportable data storage devices that could transfer information outside of the office, intentionally or not?
“Review the impact of vendors and 3rd party service providers.” Cloud computing is a powerful tool but as the article points out, “although functions can be contractually assigned to a third party, accountability for data protection cannot.” Make sure you understand how and to what extent your service providers are safeguarding the information that flows through their systems, whether it is for online registration or processing of donations.
Ref: Protecting Privacy, by Joel Lanz and Nancy Cohen, Journal of Accountancy, August 2012
The days of receiving a stack of canceled checks back with your bank statement have passed, thanks to the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act. You have probably been receiving scanned images of the cleared checks along with your monthly statements but in certain cases, you may not even be receiving those.
The IRS will usually accept a scanned copy of the canceled check during an audit but if there is some suspicion that there is a problem with the copy’s integrity, the IRS is going to need more information from your bank. The same is true during a financial statement audit and this is why it is important to understand your record keeping obligations and what your bank does and doesn’t do.
Because of technological advances and the Check 21 Act, your bank may not ever see the actual paper copy of the original check but if they do, depending on your customer agreement, they may be allowed to destroy the paper copy. There is no retention requirement for original documents for any specified length of time that the bank must follow. The bank records will instead maintain an electronic substitute check that is legally the same as the original check if all information is accurately retained.
The burden of documentation is on you, the bank customer, not the bank. Make sure to download and protect the copies of checks that accompany the bank statements and make sure you understand the terms of your customer agreement with your bank.
Read more about the Check 21 Act here.
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