I was recently asked by a large company in Cambodia to conduct an investigation into an alleged theft of money by an employee. The employee who was in a senior role at the company, had not returned to work prior to the company HR department asking him questions about the alleged theft, and was uncontactable.
It became apparent to me very quickly that the employee had stolen money; but thats not what I want to discuss. What I want to discuss is the extreme importance of conducting thorough pre-employment screening and background checks on all people who are to be employed at your company.
On obtaining the personnel file of the employee, I found a very sketchy and incomplete file with limited information on the employee’s personal details. Together with my team, we began to investigate the whereabouts of the employee, but soon discovered something all too common in Cambodia – the details of the employee were false, the information he had provided had not been verified and no pre-employment screening had been conducted by the HR department.
- When we checked the house address on the employees CV, it was discovered that he had not lived at the address since 2002.
- When we checked the Cambodian Id card on his file, it showed a commune and province only with no house number. Checks with local authorities confirmed that the employee’s mother lived in the commune but had died in 2006 and the employee had not been seen in the area since then.
- When we checked with the education providers listed in his CV, it was discovered that he had not completed his BA in Finance and the university did not have a home address or phone number for the employee in their file.
- When we liaised with his past employers, we found that the employee had been sacked for theft in 2012, obtaining a new job with a company before being employed by the company we were representing.
Our conversations with the HR department of the company we were representing ascertained that they had not conducted any pre-employment screening or background checks, and their justification for not doing this was that the manager of the company had approved the hire and told HR to get the employee into the company as soon as possible. Unfortunately the manager who supposedly gave this directive had left the company in 2015.
Fortunately, my team and I used some non-conventional lines of enquiry and we identified the location of the employee. Subsequently, police were involved and the employee was arrested and processed. The company, to avoid further embarrassment, allowed the employee to pay back the stolen funds and withdrew the criminal complaint.
The alarming concern I have is that the company we represented is not alone in its failure to conduct extensive background checks on potential employees. There seems to be an increasing number of people, both Cambodian and foreign, obtaining employment in Cambodia even though it is common knowledge that these people have been dismissed from their previous employment under dubious and questionable circumstances.
It is imperative that you conduct through and extensive background checks on any employee you are going to hire. Background checks must go beyond what is written in a CV. Some of these should be but not limited to;
- Conduct home address checks with a physical visit.
- Conduct criminal record checks with the Ministry of Justice and the Courts.
- Conduct checks with previous employers.
- Conduct checks with education providers.
- Extensively question listed references.
- Conduct extensive social media searches and the list goes on.
The risk to your business and assets is very big if you don’t conduct pre-employment screening and background checks. There is no excuse for laziness, complacency or cutting corners and its too late once the horse has bolted.