AP audit leads to yearlong embezzlement investigation

When delving into company or organization finances, there are many different elements that must be dealt with. This can make investigations such as accounts payable audits time-consuming and lengthy. However, these tools provide many benefits to businesses facing financial misappropriation such as embezzlement, duplicate payments and other illegal activities.

One organization in Moorhead, Minnesota, has been conducting a nearly yearlong investigation into evidence of embezzlement conducted by one of its former employees. According to The Jamestown Sun, the Northwestern Minnesota Synod, which is a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, believes that its ex-bookkeeper, Robert Larson, stole more than $714,000 from its coffers, after an initial audit uncovered large amounts of missing money. The investigation was launched late last year and is still ongoing, although the news source reports that authorities believe it will be ending soon.

Meanwhile, Larson has not been apprehended and is still living at his home, which investigators allege he was able to expand and remodel by using funds stolen from the religious organization. So far, the audit report has revealed that Larson may have embezzled the money by transferring money from the synod's accounts to another organization, where he served as financial manager. He then made unauthorized payments to himself and creditors, the newspaper states. Larson is also accused of using funds to pay off several loans, including one for his car and another for his house.

Fortunately, the Northwestern Minnesota Synod has been able to recover at least some of the stolen money through its insurance policy. The Jamestown Sun reports that it is now focusing on developing new processes and procedures to prevent similar situations in the future, as the embezzlement had a severe impact on other organizations associated with the church.

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