Australian officials have reportedly raided three businesses allegedly linked to a multimillion-dollar supplier invoice payment fraud involving National Australia Bank (NAB).
Reports in ABC on Tuesday (April 10) said NAB is cooperating with investigators probing a scheme in which a NAB employee would receive a request to pay a supplier invoice for an amount larger than initially agreed in the contract. The scheme allegedly involved collusion between NAB employees and external suppliers to funnel money out of the bank via seemingly legitimate supplier payments.
“Investigators have been told about a scheme whereby a person would allegedly receive corrupt commissions to authorize payments by a financial institution of invoices for a contractor, which were in excess of the agreed value of the contract,” said New South Wales Police in a statement.
Three businesses were raided as part of the ongoing investigation, with one business being named as Human Group, an events management company.
According to reports, the investigation began earlier this year when the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad created Strike Force Napthali to probe allegations of the invoice payment fraud scheme. A whistleblower at NAB first alerted police of the scheme. Investigators have seized paper documents and electronic data storage devices as part of the case.
NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn said in a statement on Tuesday that the bank employees targeted by the investigation no longer work with the institution. He added that no customers of the bank have been affected by the case.
Financial Crimes Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett said investigators are working closely with NAB.
“Our Corporate Corruption Team has been working tirelessly to track payments and other funds to determine if an offense has been committed,” Howlett said. “From the information we have gathered so far, we know there are people who have significant information that may assist us, and we are appealing for them to come forward. These investigations are complex and often protracted, but it’s likely even a small piece of valuable information or insight could assist us in resolving the matter swiftly.”
According to research from Tungsten Network, the financial services industry is the sector most affected by invoice fraud.
Last December, a similar case in the U.S. led Manhattan District Judge Paul Crotty to sentence a Nigerian man to three years and five months in prison for his role in a business email compromise scam. That case involved the sending of fraudulent emails to accounts payable departments requesting payment for seemingly legitimate supplier invoices.