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IFA2905H Advanced Forensic Investigation And Psychological Aspects Of White Collar Crimes

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IFA2905H Advanced Forensic Investigation And Psychological Aspects Of White Collar Crimes

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Course Code: IFA2905H
University: University Of Toronto

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Country: Canada

A Canadian municipal government transportation agency was in the midst of a major multi year expansion. Anthony Sable, Senior VP, Corporate Services, who had joined the Agency recently after being recruited from a similar agency in a large American city, was asked to assess the current and future needs of the Agency’s information systems. There was a feeling amongst the Agency’s executives that Sable’s predecessor had “coasted to retirement” during his last few years and that the Agency’s information systems were badly outdated.Sable quickly completed his assessment and reported back that the systems were indeed inadequate for the current and future needs of the Agency.
He also told the other executives that, based on his prior experience, only one company in North America possessed the capabilities for handling such a project, Ontario IT Solutions Group (OITSG). He suggested that the Agency should immediately commence negotiations with OITSG with a view to entering into a contract for the required work in the very near future.
The other executives told Sable that the Agency’s procurement policy for such large scale projects required a thorough tendering process to take place and that this contract could not be sole sourced. Sable reluctantly agreed to undertake a tendering process and established a Project Group to handle the procurement.The Project Group consisted of Sable, two of his direct reports and a representative from the Agency’s purchasing department. Sable also contracted with Roberts Consulting LLP to join the Project Group as Sable had worked with Roberts Consulting LLP in the past and felt they could provide assistance to the process. During the procurement process, representatives from Roberts Consulting LLP dealt exclusively with Sable and never met with the full Project Group.
During the period May 2012 to November 2012, Roberts Consulting LLP prepared an RFP, based on the Agency’s information systems requirements, as provided to them by Sable. Roberts Consulting LLP and Sable also compiled a list of eight potential vendors, including OITSG, and communicated with these potential vendors to acquire information to evaluate their qualifications. Roberts Consulting LLP and Sable evaluated the eight responses and decided that five of the eight potential vendors would receive the RFP. One of the three rejected potential vendors wrote to the Agency’s CFO stating their displeasure at being disqualified at this stage as they had won several contracts with similar agencies and had always provided a high quality product. The CFO forwarded the complaint letter to Sable for follow-up.
The RFP, with a due date of November 30, was issued to the following potential vendors:OITSG and Harrowby Consulting LLP were sent the RFP on November 15Transportation Solutions Inc and The Technology Group were sent the RFP on November 23Benson-Branvic Consortium was sent the RFP on November 24 The RFP required both a technical response, worth 70 percent of the total evaluation score, and a separate financial response, worth 30 percent
.On November 25, a proponent briefing session was held in a conference room at the Agency’s headquarters, attended by Transportation Solutions Inc, The Technology Group and Harrowby Consulting Inc. Benson-Branvic sent a letter to the Agency stating they would not be attending the briefing nor responding to the RFP due to insufficient time to prepare a response. Sable and a representative of Roberts Consulting LLP attended the briefing session on behalf of the Agency and presented the requirements for the project.
On November 26, the three proponents that attended the briefing session submitted questions to the Agency based on what had been disclosed at the briefing session. The answers to the questions were prepared by Roberts Consulting LLP and Sable and sent them out to the three proponents that attended the briefing and to OITSG. OITSG hadsome follow up questions so a telephone conference was arranged between Roberts Consulting and OITSG on November 28. Also, Transportation Solutions Inc and The Technology Group requested a two week extension to the RFP deadline. Sable agreed to a one week extension to December 7 at 3pm.
Required:The Agency’s Board of Directors wants to know what went wrong and has retained you toinvestigate. They have asked the following:1. Based on the information as described above, what are your initial concerns? Briefly explain why you are concerned.2. What additional information do you require in order to assess the process leading to the awarding of the contract to OITSG and the subsequent management of the contract? Briefly describe why you need this information and how you would obtain it.

Sable was given the job of completing an assessment which was taken under his control through the help of a company named Ontario IT Solutions Group. He carried out some negotiations with the company to join in work and according to Sabel, only OITSG was under the capabilities of carrying out the tasks of the project. Outsourcing of the functions were carried out to the company as some functions could not be operated by Sabel. This also implies that other companies were not considered and only one option was chosen by Sabel. 
Negotiations were mainly carried out by Sabel as to make the earliest preparations and getting work done at the time period which was not delayed. This might be to prevent time delays and be more effective, but proposal of negotiations is an indication of concern which needs to be looked upon.
 Sable had been unwillingly undertaken the tendering process for the procurement and for that, there was an establishment of a Project Group. This was associated with Sabel himself and he chose only two of his subordinates to handle the project. One of the purchasing manager from the department was also chosen to deal with the purchasing. In total, there were four people with Sabel’s control over all the decision making. Controlling nature reflects a style of insecurity and low levels of trust, which needs to be considered as one of the red flags from Sabel’s point of view.
During the deals of purchasing, Roberts Consulting LLP came in communication with Sabel only. The rest three member of the project group were not a part of the meeting. Sabel decided to only make himself open to communication, which seems to be unfair on the level of the rest of the Project team. Being the sole communicator, there is a red flag as no one else was authorized to discuss anything.  This is because Sabel might have limited the access of members to prevent damaging information be known which can put an end to the entire process. By putting up with different levels of communication where information is open and flowing at all levels, the suspicion can be corrected.
On the request of Sabel, a RFP was created by Roberts LLP which had listed the requirements and had included 8 vendors. However, requirements based on the Agency’s Information Systems need to be accurate clear and complete for the purpose of accuracy and effectiveness. It needs to be identified whether Roberts LLP were able to fulfill the task in an efficient and authentic manner. In addition, there could be a case where requirements are written in such a way which are favorable to a special supplier, while other suppliers would not be attracted consequently. This drives out competition. Out of the 8 vendors, 5 of them were approved.
One of the three rejected vendors carried out a complain to the CFO of the agency stating that being disqualified at such a stage was deemed to be unfair on the grounds of selection. The justification was based on the high quality products which were provided to other similar agencies previously. From the suppliers point of view, complains arising about the selection process is the red flag. The selection criteria resulting in a rejection of a well-established company without a justified reason is a matter which needs to be resolved. Requirements need to be listed in terms of the selection criteria along with being disclosed for each supplier to make it precise. 
There was another issue which took place. The RFP with a due date of 30th November was issued to the 5 vendors on completely different dates. Transportation Solutions Inc. and The Technology Group were sent the RFP on 23rd November and Benson-Branvic Consortium was sent the RFP on November 24. Both the dates were close to each other while OITSG and Harrowby Consulting LLP received the RFP on the 15th of November. Mismatch of dates indicates a red flag for the agency’s actions. The choice of procedure pre-tendering was not up to the mark. There was lack of procurement strategy used effectively resulting in timeframe not consistently applied to all the suppliers.
Due to the short term period, Benson Branvic refused to show up on the meeting and did not have any response for the RFP. Insufficient time resulted in such an action by Benson Branvic which was deemed to be another red flag. Invitation to tender needs to have sufficient time to make the bidding decision and be able to show up at the time of meetings. 
 After the briefing session, the follow up questions of OITSG were answered through a telephone conference call which were arranged with OITSG and Roberts Consulting. Keeping Roberts Consulting as a sole procurement specialist indicates a chance of fraud being committed.
On 1st December, Harrowby Consulting LLP refused to take part in the bid process by writing down to the Agency. The letterhead showed that the location of both offices, OITSG and Harrowby, is same and previously subsections of work has been contracted out to Harrowby Consulting by OITSG. The refusal indicates a red flag which needs to be investigated. To not declare connections with Harrowby, as the same location was shared, there had been commitment of fraud.  OITSG, being the supplier, had to declare apparent connections that exist with Harrowby, because collusions result at times.  This is because there can be a chance of submitting high bids and dividing up work between each other. A statement of business ethics for suppliers would be prepared to ensure integrity.
Another area of suspicious comes with the recording of the times and dates of proposals received by the mailroom employees. Employees had been reluctant in recording accurately and on a real time basis.  The defrauding between employee and employer is a red flag. (Kramer, 2012) Not preserving appropriate paperwork, including documentation of decisions has been detected as per the audit. Documentation is associated with recording. In order to ensure that employees record on a real time basis, there could be rotating of work by moving into higher positions to keep them empowered and motivated.
Robert Consulting had only emailed the technical submissions to Sabel and two of his subordinates. The purchasing department representative had not received any information regarding the technical specifications. It can be considered as a red flag as the technical specifications need to be clear and have to be tailored to the performance of the product required. All members of the Project team should have received the mail for the technical specifications so as to be accurate and be verified once.
OITSG’s quotation was set to be too low in comparison with the other two bidders, being 29 percent lower than Technology Group and 32 percent lower than Transportation Solutions Inc. In addition, numerous change orders were processed resulting in an overall price of $13.7 million. The red flag comes up with a pattern of low price acceptance which has been followed by number of changing orders resulting in the contract price to increase. It has also extended the period of completion as a result. By winning the contract at a lower price, and Sabel coming in collusion with the Roberts LLP, who has been the procurement official, prices has been increased to gain profits at this expense. This is a manipulation strategy which has been carried out.
The collusion has resulted in the extension of the project in terms of three years and consequently, employees were not satisfied with the quality level of the new information’s system. This indicates that there has been a failure to meet the specifications of the contract. By receiving employee complaints, the contract has proved to be of low quality and not meeting up the specifications which were asked for by Sabel and the agency.  Suggested control measures would be to keep a check on the quality when the goods have been received, and investigation of complaints is done appropriately.
Red flags helps in triggering the fraud cases but there are several other information and skills which are required to proof that a fraud has occurred. It is essential to conduct a brainstorming session where the main objective should be to understand as to why these red flags have occurred and what could be the motive of the contractor to indulge in the fraud. The management needs to have an in-house legal counsel who has to consider the entire process and help them with the legality of the case.
For instance the features and procedures which are important for considering the items available in the inventory. It is important to have the correct and reliable information about fraud as it can occur in any department and among any level of Sable. It should also involve analytical procedures, which is the way of collecting information by detecting any material misstatements and risks which are invalided in a certain process. It also provides with a list of procedures which may help in detecting the presence of a risk.
Possible additional information required can be derived based on the probability of the following Potential Frauds that may have occurred in the process of bidding
Procurement Fraud can be defined as a deliberately intended action which influences the process of paying to make a financial gain or cause loss to the third party. Pre-contract stage of fraud includes the frauds which are related to the process of submission. Such as premature opening of bids, altering of bids, unjustifiable extension of the time limits, and falsification of the bid logs. All of these frauds are determined to leak information and to provide a competitive advantage to the bidder.
In regards to the case of OITSG and Sable, there are red flags determined, which gives an overview of how these red flags can led to fraud in the bidding process. The first stage in the process of bidding involves Presolicitation phase, and it has 3 distinct phases. The first is Bid Specification, where the bidder specifies the contact bases, the price and all the other required information to be discussed. Sable and OITSG had gone through several negotiations and then they undertook the Project Group. There also has been bid splitting where Harrowby Consulting LLP’s was subcontracting the work to OITSG.
Then the next phase is Solicitation phase, it involves Bid Manipulation. Employee might manipulate the process of bidding to give a favor to the contactor or supplier. This may include re-bidding of the work, falsifying the bid log. In OITSG there are red flags of bid manipulation such as there are no controls implemented in the bidding process, any changes which are made in RFS does not have any evidence or a proof showing the reason as to why the RFS was send on different dates to each of the vendor.
Again there is a collusion, where after the bids were received and confirmed they were contracted to another contractor without the concern of the main party. To detect Bid manipulation, it is essential to examine and note the red flags which involves the invitations of the bids, the procurement records and the list of the contractors who are approved. Another way of detecting bid manipulation is comparing the bids with successful and unsuccessful bids. For instance, Sable should determine the legitimate nature of the claims which are being made, these claims may have errors and changes made which caused OITSG to contract the bid to Harrowby.
In the RFP, the bidder is allowed to submit a price which very low for the line item and the overall bidding has inflated price on other items. This is called Unbalanced Bidding, where the line items in the request for the bid is very low. OITSG had a proposal of 60 pages as compared to 89 pages which is an average. It was also found that OITSG quoted a very low price to two of its contracts. They charged 29% lower to Technology Group and 32% lower to Transportation Solution Inc. as compared to Sable.
So this shows that OITSG was involved in Unbalanced Bidding where the line items where charged higher prices as compared to the other contractors. Further analysis for this can be conducted through gaining documents such as the contracts specifications, the requests for the proposals, orders which have been changed and what are the reasons for the changes that has occurred. A compassion should be done matched with the items which are requested for submission and the actual performance of OITSG.
Leaking bid data is also another fraud which occurs in the process of bidding. It is when the employee leaks information before the actual bid processor leaking information which is confidential. This leakage of data will provide a competitive advantage to the bidder. Robert Consulting emailed the technical submissions only to Sable and two of the direct reports. This shows that there is leakage of the data as Robert Consulting has only provided the information about the technical submission only to Sable. Moreover, there should be further analysis done on leaking the bid data. Such as when the last party to bid wins the contract. To detect leakage of bid data it is essential to examine and note any of the red flags, to determine the requests which are available for bidding such as the rules and regulations.
Post award and administration phase is the last stage of the bidding process. The first part is non-conforming services are those services which does not provide a confirmation of the contract for specifications which ensures that the product is of low-quality. Then is contract modifications which involves any changes which made to the contract by increasing or decreasing the actual quoted price so that the desired bidder wins the contract. It is also important to have a proper review done on the portions which are stated as completed and a match should be done with the actual contact made and the actual items received.
Moreover, once the contact is received and the items are also received, compliance testing should be conducted. This compliance testing will involve the assessment of the delivered items and will also be compared against the terms of the contract. In case, when there is mischarge of costs such as the accounting, material or labor costs. These mischarges should be taken seriously and actions needs to be taken against them. Quality control is one more important feature of the last phase in the biding process,
The bidding process depends on the maintenance and the way project is being managed. Therefore, it is important to have a proper timetable and this timetable will include estimations to be made on the process of bidding.
However, there is a requirement to have more knowledge and information to justify and asses the process of bidding.  It is essential to have the names and the contacts of the people who are involved in the tender process, the medium through which the information is being communicated between the tender and the authority who is contracting. A monthly check and visit needs to be made to inspection site where Sable should make a visit to OITSG. Moreover, it is also important to have a clear prospect on the technicality, financial and legal criterions for evaluating the process of bidding. Quality and assurance plan should be checked to ensure that the product or the line items are as per the rules of the quality control and inspected properly. Sable has higher level of influence which shows that they tend to have more power of the bidding process, hence this will also signify that which company can issue the contact on what to basis.
This proves to be a collision between the employee the contactor. A collision may result due to different reasons such as having suspect on an employee who has a personal relationship with the bidder outside the business. It can also been seen that socialization or having a personal contact with OTISG will also have an impact on the bidding process. The reasons specified above also demonstrates that how an unfair biding process can cause problems in the contract and may also lead to wrong assessment of the company.
There is also some additional information which can be required as the information about the company. It should explain the services and the products of the company, as to how long the company is in the running process and what are their strengths and weaknesses. Staff’s skills and qualifications can also add more information to the bidding process, as the staff who is more experienced and has the right skills required will help in making the right quality product as required by the contract. The contacts should be based on proper standards and policies and laws should be adhered. Such as the environmental policy, quality policy etc.
The bidding evaluation should always be compared with the actual contract and the service which is being received by the company which OITSG. Hence, after weighing all the possible potential frauds that may occur Sable should consider all of these points and detect red flags in the entire prices of bidding, it should be comprehended from the first phase until the last phase of the bidding process. As this will provide an opportunity for Sable to release the status of the contact and the bid whether it will be a win or lose.

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