By Kevin Werner, News Staff
There will be tougher rules for Hamilton employees who are handling cash transactions after city staff discovered early this summer a $1 million fraud that had taken place over a nine-year period.
Members of the audit, finance and administration committee agreed at its Sept. 9 meeting to a series of staff recommendations to improve the control of cash handing within city departments.
“I’m very pleased (with the recommendations),” said Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark, a member of the committee. “It has been a long-time coming.”
The recommendations include securing money at all times; employees who handle cash should be bonded; the same person responsible for cash collections should not have any duties involving the issuing invoices, or other transactions; develop a proper refund policy with supporting documentation; and issue receipts in all instances.
The guidelines are to be established across all city departments, and should be in place by the end of the year. A report to the committee reviewing the new guidelines will be provided by the end of March 2014. The committee had asked staff to prepare tougher rules for cash handling by all employees last July.
The recommendations will be voted upon at the Sept. 11 council meeting.
An employee was fired in June after a city review of cash handling discovered an alleged fraud of about $1 million. City staff said the loss of money had taken over a period of about nine years. City officials have not confirmed the employee involved.
But he has been identified as Michael Hawrylyshn, an accounts receivable co-ordinator.
The Hamilton Police Service, which city officials had called in to investigate the incident, remains on-going.
Mike Zegarac, the acting general manager of corporate finance, said the incident relates to transactions between the city and its service providers. One of the departments affected includes the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, and the collection of rent money from market vendors.
The city hired its own forensic accountant to review the implications of the incident. Zegarac said the consultant has reviewed the city’s new cash handling recommendations.
“This starts a process,” said Dundas councillor Russ Powers, a member of the committee. “All of us have expressed concerns. There was a commonality of legitimate concerns about cash handling. It may take a little time to implement (the recommendations).”