Crossing the Ethical boundary Part 2: Insights from a fraud investigator
What do you think is the number one reason why many people do not succeed in their life?
Here is my story.
After getting all the records, summarizing work and documenting all the evidence I needed, I was ready to present my findings to the director.
As investigators, we don’t report unless we have had a chat with the suspects in our report. Clearly, the bursar was a key suspect. But he could not have worked alone. The head teacher and the director of studies too, were part of the deal. How do you get out over 450mper term from a total of Ugx 1.6 billion collected? It is over 30%!
As I entered the Bursar’s office, he stood up, looked me directly in my eyes and said:“Mustapha I know why you are here. I have already seen your findings. Why don’t we meet this afternoon at Serena and we talk as men” Without any forethought, I said – sure no problem. We meet at 2 p.m.
As I left his office I started thinking about it. Why did this guy postpone the meeting at Serena?
I called up my friend from Uganda Police – just to accompany me. He sat in a strategic location in a corner next to me. And guess what, the Bursar arrived with the Director of Studies, hand in hand.
The Bursar directly went to business. “What if we give you Ugx10 million and you drop all this evidence.”
I said I cannot do that. It is an insult. He said, “what if I give you Ugx25 million. Is it still an insult?
I said, this is not about money. It is about my reputation.
The DOS, said, to save our time here, “what if we double this offer. You will be so rich and buy land or a brand new car and won’t have to use bodabodas anymore?”
Now, I must be honest, the DOS was a true teacher. He made it so loud and clear. I looked at the Police officer, whom I had told to listen in carefully, and he showed me a thumb up! I knew I am about to cross the ethical line.
I said,“Before I give you my position, I really have to talk to my Colleague about this; you see they have all this information.” Unknown to them, my partner is actually my wife.
That evening, I went home, I found my wife at home preparing my best dish – Kalo and Chicken.
I went to the kitchen, and said,“Love, I don’t know what to do. What should I do?”
She said,“What is it? Tell me.” I said,“The job I just got, the client is paying us Ugx6 million, but the people I am investigating have offered me Ugx50m to kill the evidence.” She left the Kaloon the gas, turned to me and at the top of her voice, said, “take the money; man I thought I married an accountant with the basics – 2 is greater than 1– 50 million is greater than 6 million.”
You like my wife don’t you?
However, if you were seated with my wife and me, in our six seater dining table, you would have heard her say something that would change your life, because it changed mine.
She said, “Love, ever since we met, you have always talked about starting your own firm and growing it as leader in governance. That is all you have always wanted. I don’t care how much they try to pay you, Mustapha your ethics is not for sale!”
Yes, “your ethics is not for sale”
Most people think the number one reason why they are not successful is lack of money, lack of talent, lack of good jobs. NO, that’s not it.
The number one thing which stands between you and your dream is something good we settle for in exchange for our ethics, a good job, a good car, a good salary, good income.
Is your ethics for sale?
Are you too desperate in your current life to sell your integrity and ethics for money?
I said,“See love, that’s why you are my wife.”
The next day I went to the Bursar, and I was bold. I looked him directly into his face and I was firm, I said,“my partner said my ethics is not for sale.”
And I left that same morning. I passed via the client and briefed him, gave him the full report and the Bursar, DOS and Head teacher immediately lost their jobs. Those are choices they made.
I felt very good afterwards and guess what, I have managed to grow Summit Consulting Ltd from a very small firm into a powerful respected Company – with top clients like MTN, Stanbic Bank, Government of Uganda and as well as in Kenya.
I have been elected as a Secretary of Institute of Corporate governance of Uganda. I continue to serve as Board member for Uganda Red Cross Society leading change to transform the society, and I would not have become so much blessed if had not heed the advice my wife gave me.
“Your ethics is not for sale” and guess what neither is yours.So turn to your neighbor and say “Your ethics is not for sale.”
When it comes to ethics, lead your first. If you want people to be ethical you must be ethical yourself.