We had a Client, James who started and built a booming business with his longtime friend, Bill. Bill was outgoing, charismatic while James was more laid back and book smart, while both had the desire and knowledge to start a company. For years, growing up, through high school and college, they knew they wanted to work for themselves, didn’t want to report to a boss, wanted to have choices and full control over their own destiny and livelihood.
After graduating with degrees in two different fields, they merged their knowledge and started a much needed consulting business in their hometown, just 30 minutes outside of Indianapolis. Twenty years later, they had talked about selling the business someday to spend more time with their families and travel. James had a different method of advertising their business for sale than Bill did and that is what started the breakdown of their friendship and business relationship. James at one time was responsible for the accounting of the business and Bill did the public relations and traveling across the US. This continued until the last couple of years, when Bill informed James he was tired of not being home and wanted to be instrumental in the backside of the company, and James agreed.
When the topic was brought up to put the business on the market, Bill was against it. James was adamant with selling but Bill did everything he could to block any perspective buyers, was uncooperative in producing records, became agitated whenever James requested documents, had changed passwords and was indeed not a part of the team they developed more than 20 years ago.
James turned to for answers and a solution to his problem. He could no longer access any of the accounting portions of the business and the HR employee appeared to have sided with Bill; and James knew there was something wrong; his friend was just not the same person he had known for the majority of his life.
Without raising any suspension within the business and to alert Bill, we conducted an asset investigation upon Bill to include hidden bank accounts, hidden retirement funds, and hidden money linked to him.
It appeared that Bill’s home life had changed as well. James made a good decision to hire an asset search investigator, as an assets investigation and recovery would create a better picture of what was going on with Bill. To search for assets we worked through James’ attorney and conducted a personal search for assets on Bill. James was surprised at our initial findings, Bill had spent hundreds of thousands dollars on an additional mortgage, health insurance and household expenses not related to his own family and had been doing it for several years, right around the time he and James switched responsibilities in the company. Bill had also opened up an account in his name only and had put away thousands of dollars a month into the account for years. James was stunned at his friend, or the man he had called friend for years. When James confronted Bill the scene was less than comfortable and Bill shut down. It was then James removed his computer from the business location for a certified computer examiner, or a computer forensic specialist to extract data. Then James learned Bill had deleted information from the computer several days prior to their confrontation, but the computer forensic examination retrieved pertinent information regarding the business. Bill had been utilizing the business account for his personal use and the sale of the business would have uncovered the truth along with the fact there was another family Bill had created while traveling. Bill had been paying this woman’s expenses for the last three years and had been sending her money, money brought in by the company and the “Company Bank Account” was barely able to pay the bills now, there was no slush fund, there was no group retirement fund they had set up years ago, all was gone, except for the hidden bank account Bill thought nobody would ever find and the one way ticket to California scheduled to leave the following day.
How does this story end, well, James pressed charges against Bill and had to file Bankruptcy, Bill’s wife divorced him and Bill was found guilty of Embezzlement and will be spending the next few years thinking about one wrong decision after another and James, well, James is rebuilding, putting off the thought of early retirement for now. James told us he had had some strange feelings regarding the business and had wished he would have reacted upon them years ago, but he didn’t. He told us, your motto, Know the Truth and the Truth will set you Free holds true to both him and Bill.
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations