Muscat accountant defrauds UAE-Oman joint venture of Dh3.7m

Gulf Construction and Building Material Company was alerted when the client informed them that he had not received any receipts for the money he had paid.

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MUSCAT // An Indian accountant working for a construction firm in Muscat defrauded his employers of Dh3.7 million by changing the company’s account number to his own.

The 56-year old Indian national, Hari Kumar, has worked as an accountant at Gulf Construction and Building Material Company since 2011.

He was promoted to head of the section in 2015.

The missing money came to light after Mr Kumar suddenly left Oman.

“The case is in the court now but he has sent the invoice of the last three payments, a total of 385,000 rials (Dh3.7m) to our client, which I am not at liberty to name, for the instalments of the construction of his commercial building in Muscat. The money was paid into his account,” said Sameer Al Battashi, joint managing director of the company where Mr Kumar was employed.

“We did not know about it until last week when he left the country after asking for one-week emergency leave.”

The client had signed a contract with Gulf Construction for the company to build a commercial property.

But when Mr Kumar sent out invoices to the client, he inserted his own bank account number instead of the company’s. Gulf Construction was alerted when the client informed them that he had not received any receipts for the money he had paid.

The company is a joint venture owned by an Omani businessman and a UAE investor. The Omani partner said the accountant who defrauded the company was a loyal and hardworking employee.

Gulf Construction has filed the case at the labour court in Muscat. An official there said more than half of crimes, such as embezzlement and faking identity information, are committed by middle managers. Though the number of fraud cases which go to court is falling in Oman, fraud remains a problem for the ministry of manpower which takes it seriously.

There were 734 financial fraud cases committed by employees in Oman in 2016, about 11 per cent lower than a year earlier.

A ministry spokesman said some companies tried to save costs by having their books audited by external auditors only once a year instead of every quarter, but this meant discrepancies were not noticed immediately.

“That is the good news, that fraud cases are going down, but the bad news is that company owners are still negligent when it comes to tightening up control of their finances despite our regular warnings.”