Fraud, Internal Control and Cash
1. Define fraud and internal control.
2. Identify the principles of internal control activities.
3. Explain the applications of internal control principles to cash receipts.
4. Explain the applications of internal control principles to cash disbursements.
5. Prepare a bank reconciliation.
6. Explain the reporting of cash.
7. Discuss the basic principles of cash management.
8. Identify the primary elements of a cash budget.
9. (Appendix) Explain the operation of a petty cash fund.
Study Objective 1 – Define Fraud and Internal Control ♦ Fraud is a dishonest act by employee that results in personal benefit to the
employee at a cost to the employer ♦ Three main factors contribute to fraudulent activity. They are: (1) opportunity,
which are usually due to a lack of sufficient controls; (2) financial pressure, which usually is related to too much personal debt or a desire for a better lifestyle; and (3) rationalization, which is justification for why the employee deserves the compensation from fraudulent acts.
♦ Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) requires all publicly traded U.S. corporations to maintain an adequate system of internal controls. SOX imposes more responsibilities on corporate executives and boards of directors to ensure that companies’ internal controls are reliable and effective
Companies must develop sound principles of control over financial reporting and continually assess that the controls are working.
Independent outside auditors must attest to the level of internal controls. ♦ Internal control consists of all of the related methods and measures adopted
within a business to: Safeguard assets Enhance the reliability of its accounting records Increase efficiency of operations, and Ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
♦ There are five primary components of internal control systems: Control environment, or “tone at the top.” Risk assessment, or identifying and analyzing factors that create risk. Control activities, or policies and procedures to address risk. Information and communication, which allow for both down and up
organizational information flow and appropriate external communication. Monitoring, which allow for reporting of significant deficiencies
Study Objective 2 - Identify the Principles of Internal Control ♦ To safeguard assets and enhance the accuracy and reliability of its accounting
records, companies follow internal control principles. The following six internal control principles apply to most enterprises:
1. Establishment of Responsibility An essential characteristic of internal control is the assignment of responsibility to
specific individuals. Control is most effective when only one person is responsible for a given task. Establishing responsibility includes the authorization and approval of transactions.
2. Segregation of Duties Segregation of duties is indispensable in a system of internal control. The rationale for segregation of duties is that the work of one employee should,
without a duplication of effort, provide a reliable basis for evaluating the work of another employee.
There are two common applications of this principle: I. The responsibility for related activities should be assigned to different
individuals. • Related Activities:
When one individual is responsible for all of the related activities, the potential for errors and irregularities is increased.
Related purchasing activities should be assigned to different individuals. Related purchasing activities include ordering merchandise, receiving goods, and paying (or authorizing payment) for merchandise.
Related sales activities also should be assigned to different individuals. Related sales activities include making a sale, shipping (or delivering) the goods to the customer, and billing the customer.
II.The responsibility for record keeping for an asset should be separate from the
physical custody of the asset. • Separate Record Keeping from Physical Custody
The custodian of the asset is not likely to convert the assets to personal use if one employee maintains the record of the assets that should be on hand and a different employee has physical custody of the assets.
3. Documentation Procedures –
• Documents provide evidence that transactions and events have occurred. • Documents should be prenumbered and all documents should be
accounted for. • Source documents for accounting entries should be promptly forwarded to
the accounting department to help ensure timely recording of the transaction and event.
4. Physical Electronic Controls – Physical controls relate primarily to the safeguarding of assets. Mechanical and electronic controls safeguard assets and enhance the accuracy and reliability of the accounting records. Use of physical controls is essential. Examples of these controls include: Safes, vaults, and safety deposit boxes for cash and business papers. Locked warehouses and storage cabinets for inventory and records. Computer facilities with pass key access or fingerprint or eyeball scans. Alarms to prevent break-ins. Television monitors and garment sensors to deter theft. Time clocks for recording time worked.
5. Independent Internal Verification Independent internal verification involves the review, comparison, and
reconciliation of data prepared by employees. For Maximum benefit:
Verification should be made periodically or on a surprise basis. Verification should be done by an employee independent of the personnel
responsible for the information. Discrepancies and exceptions should be reported to a management level
that can take appropriate corrective action. In large companies, independent internal verification is often assigned to internal
auditors. • Internal auditors are employees of the company who evaluate on a
continuous basis the effectiveness of the company’s system of internal control.
• They periodically review the activities of departments and individuals to determine whether prescribed internal controls are being followed.
6. Human Resource Controls Bonding of employees who handle cash. Rotating employees' duties and requiring employees to take vacations. Conducting thorough background checks, checking on school graduations and
verified telephone number of previous employers.
Limitations of Internal Control Internal control is designed to provide reasonable assurance that assets are
properly safeguarded and that the accounting records are reliable. The concept of reasonable assurance rests on the premise that the costs of
establishing control procedures should not exceed their expected benefit. The human element is a factor in every system of internal control. A good system can become ineffective as a result of employee fatigue,
carelessness, or indifference. Occasionally two or more employees may work together in order to get around prescribed controls (collusion). Collusion can significantly impair the effectiveness of a system of internal
control because it eliminates the protection anticipated from segregation of duties.
The size of the business may impose limitations on internal control. A small company may find it difficult to apply the principles of segregation of duties and independent internal verification.
An important and inexpensive measure any business can take to reduce employee theft and fraud is to conduct thorough background checks. Two tips include: 1. Check to see whether job applicants actually graduated from the schools they
list. 2. Never use the telephone numbers for previous employers given on the
reference sheet; always look them up yourself.
Study Objective 3 - Explain the Applications of Internal Control to Cash Receipts
♦ Cash Controls Just as cash is the beginning of a company’s operating cycle, it is usually the
starting point for a company’s system of internal control. Cash is the asset most susceptible to improper diversion and use. Because of the large volume of cash transactions, numerous errors may occur in
executing and recording cash transactions. To safeguard cash and ensure the accuracy of the accounting records for cash,
effective internal control over cash is imperative. Cash consists of coins, currency (paper money), checks, money orders, and
money on hand or on deposit in a bank or similar depository. Cash Receipts Controls: ♦ Cash receipts result from cash sales; collections on account from customers; the
receipt of interest, rents, and dividends; investments by owners; bank loans; and proceeds from the sale of noncurrent assets.
♦ The following internal control principles explained earlier apply to cash receipts
transactions as shown: • Establishment of responsibility - Only designated personnel (cashiers)
are authorized to handle cash receipts. • Segregation of duties - Different individuals receive cash, record cash
receipts, and hold the cash. • Documentation procedures - Use remittance advice (mail receipts),
cash register tapes, and deposit slips. • Physical controls - Store cash in safes and bank vaults; limit access to
storage areas; use cash registers. • Independent internal verification - Supervisors count cash receipts
daily; treasurer compares total receipts to bank deposits daily. • Human resource controls - Bond personnel who handle cash; require
vacations; deposit all cash in bank daily. ♦ In some instances, the amount deposited at the bank will not agree with the cash
recorded in the accounting records based on the cash register tape. ♦ When a difference occurs between the actual cash and the amount reported on the
cash register tape, the account, Cash Over and Short, is used. ♦ Assume for example that the cash register tape indicated sales of $6,956.20 but the
amount of cash was only $6,946.10. The cash shortfall of $10.10 would be recorded as follows:
Cash 6,946.10 Cash Over and Short 10.10 Sales Revenue 6,956.20
Study Objective 4 - Explain the Applications of Internal Control to Cash Disbursements
Cash Disbursement Control ♦ Cash is disbursed to pay expenses and liabilities or to purchase assets. ♦ Internal control over cash disbursements is more effective when payments are made
by check, rather than by cash, except for incidental amounts that are paid out of petty cash.
Cash payments are generally made only after specific control procedures have
been followed. The paid check provides proof of payment.
♦ The principles of internal control apply to cash disbursements as follows: Establishment of responsibility - Only designated personnel (treasurer) are
authorized to sign checks. Segregation of duties - Different individuals approve and make payments;
check signers do not record disbursements. Documentation procedures - Use prenumbered checks and account for them
in sequence; each check must have approved invoice; stamp invoices “PAID”. Physical controls - Store blank checks in safes with limited access; print check
amounts by machine with indelible ink. Independent internal verification - Compare checks to invoices; reconcile bank
statement monthly. Human resource controls – Bond personnel who handle cash; require
employees to take vacations; conduct background checks. ♦ Voucher System Controls – A voucher system is a network of approvals by
authorized individuals, acting independently, to ensure that all disbursements by check are proper ♦ A voucher system is effective because:
(a) it establishes responsibility for the authorization process; and (b) it keeps track of the documents that back up each transaction.
♦ Petty Cash Fund – A cash fund used to pay relatively small amounts. Information on the operation of a petty cash fund is provided in the appendix to this chapter.
♦ Use of a Bank Contributes significantly to good internal control over cash. Minimizes the amount of currency that must be kept on hand. Facilitates the control of cash because a double record is maintained of all bank
transactions – one by the business and one by the bank. The asset account Cash maintained by the company is the “flip-side” of the
bank’s liability account for that company. It should be possible to reconcile these accounts—make them agree—at any time.
Bank statements – Each month the company receives a bank statement showing its bank transactions and balances. Some transactions and balances shown include: • Checks paid and other debits that reduce the balance in the depositor’s
account. • Deposits and other credits that increase the balance in the depositor’s
account. • The account balance after each day’s transactions.
Bank statements are prepared from the bank’s perspective. Every deposit the bank receives is an increase in the bank’s liabilities (an
accounts payable) to the depositor. Every check the bank funds or pays for a depositor decreases the bank’s
liability (an accounts payable) to the depositor.
Study Objective 5 – Prepare a Bank Reconciliation The bank and the company maintain independent records of the checking account. The two balances are seldom the same because of: ♦ Time lags that prevent one of the parties from recording the transaction in the same
period. Days elapse between the time a check is written and dated and the date it is paid
by the bank. A day may pass between the time receipts are recorded by the company and the
time they are recorded by the bank. A time lag may occur when the bank mails a debit or credit memo to the
company. ♦ Errors by either party in recording transactions. The incidence of errors depends on
the effectiveness of internal controls maintained by the company and the bank. Bank errors are infrequent.
♦ Reconciliation procedure – In reconciling the bank account, it is customary to
reconcile the balance per books and balance per bank to their adjusted (correct or true) cash balances. To obtain maximum benefit from a bank reconciliation, the reconciliation should be prepared by an employee who has no other responsibilities related to cash.
♦ The reconciliation schedule is divided into two sections – balance per bank and
balance per books. The following steps should reveal all the reconciling items causing the difference between the two balances:
1. Compare the individual deposits on the bank statement with the deposits in transit from the preceding bank reconciliation and with the deposits per company records or copies of duplicate deposit slips. Deposits recorded by the depositor that have not been recorded by the bank represent deposits in transit and are added to the balance per bank.
2. Compare the paid checks shown on the bank statement or the paid checks returned with the bank statement with (a) checks outstanding from the preceding bank reconciliation and (b) checks issued by the company as recorded in the cash payments journal. Issued checks recorded by the company that have not been paid by the bank represent outstanding checks that are deducted from the balance per bank.
3. Note any errors discovered in the foregoing steps and list them in the appropriate section of the reconciliation schedule. All errors made by the depositor are reconciling items in determining the adjusted cash balance per books. In contrast, all errors made by the bank are reconciling items in determining the adjusted cash balance per bank.
4. Trace bank memoranda to the depositor’s records. Any unrecorded memoranda should be listed in the appropriate section of the reconciliation schedule.
♦ Entries from Bank Reconciliation – Each reconciling item used in determining adjusted cash balance per books should be recorded by the depositor. If these items are not journalized and posted, the Cash account will not show the correct balance.
♦ Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) System A new approach developed to transfer funds among parties without the use of
paper (deposit tickets, checks, etc.). The approach, called electronic funds transfers (EFT), uses wire, telephone, telegraph, or computer to transfer cash from one location to another.
Study Objective 6 – Explain the Reporting of Cash ♦ Cash is recorded in both the balance sheet and the statement of cash flows. The
balance sheet shows the amount of cash available at a given point in time. The statement of cash flows shows the sources and uses of cash during a period of time.
♦ Cash on hand, cash in banks, and petty cash are often combined and reported
simply as cash. ♦ Cash is the most liquid asset and listed first in the current assets section of the
♦ Many companies use the designation “Cash and cash equivalents” in reporting cash.
Cash equivalents are short-term, highly liquid investments that are both:
(1) Readily convertible to known amounts of cash, and (2) So near their maturity that their market value is relatively insensitive to changes
in interest rates. ♦ A negative balance in the cash account should be rare. It should be reported among
current liabilities. ♦ A company may have cash that is not available for general use but rather is
restricted for a special purpose. Cash restricted in use should be reported separately on the balance sheet as restricted cash. If the restricted cash is expected to be used within the next year, the amount should be reported as a current asset. When this is not the case the restricted funds should be reported as a noncurrent asset.
Study Objective 7 - Discuss the Basic Principles of Cash Management Many companies struggle, not because they fail to generate sales, but because they cannot manage their cash. Managing the often-precarious balance created by the ebb and flow of cash during the operating cycle is one of a company’s greatest challenges. ♦ Management of cash is the responsibility of the company treasurer. ♦ A company can improve its chances of having adequate cash by following five basic
principles of cash management:
1. Increase the speed of collection on receivables The more quickly customers pay the more quickly a company can use those
funds. Any attempt to force customers to pay earlier must be carefully weighted against
the possibility of angering or alienating customers. One common way to encourage customers to pay more quickly is to offer cash
discounts for early payment.
2. Keep inventory levels low Maintaining large inventories ties up large amounts of cash, as well as
warehouse space. Increasingly, firms are using techniques to reduce the inventory on hand, thus
conserving their cash.
3. Delay payment of liabilities A company should use the full payment period, but not “stretch” payment past
the point that could damage its credit rating.
4. Plan the timing of major expenditures In order to increase the likelihood of obtaining outside financing, a company
should carefully consider the timing of major expenditures in light of its operating cycle. If at all possible, the expenditure should be made when the company normally has excess cash—usually during the off-season.
5. Invest idle cash Cash on hand earns nothing. An important part of the treasurer’s job is to ensure that any excess cash is
invested, even if it is only overnight. A liquid investment is one with a market in which someone is always willing to
buy or sell the investment. A risk-free investment means there is no concern that the party will default on its
promise to pay its principal and interest.
Study Objective 8 - Identify the Primary Elements of a Cash Budget Cash is vital and planning the company's cash needs is a key business activity. The cash budget shows the anticipated cash flows, over a one- to two-year period. The cash budget contains the following three sections:
1. Cash receipts section—includes expected receipts from the company's principal source(s) of revenue, such as cash sales and collections from customers on credit sales. This section also shows anticipated receipts of interest and dividends, and proceeds from planned sales of investments, plant assets, and the company's capital stock.
2. Cash disbursements section—shows expected payments for direct materials,
direct labor, manufacturing overhead, and selling and administrative expenses. This section also includes projected payments for income taxes, dividends, investments, and plant assets.
3. Financing section—shows expected borrowings and the repayment of the
borrowed funds and interest. ♦ Data in the cash budget must be prepared in sequence because the ending cash
balance of one period becomes the beginning cash balance for the next period. ♦ Data for preparing the cash budget are obtained from other budgets and from
information provided by management. ♦ A cash budget contributes to more effective cash management.
Review What are the three factors of the fraud triangle that contribute to fraudulent activity
by employees? Identify the six principles of internal control. Give examples of each principle.
Discuss the limitations of internal control. List six internal controls over cash receipts. Explain the application of each. List six internal controls over cash disbursements. Explain the application of each. List the steps in preparing a bank reconciliation. Prepare a bank reconciliation.
Prepare the journal entries that result from a bank reconciliation. In which financial statement(s) is cash reported? Discuss restricted cash and
negative cash balances. Discuss the five basic principles of cash management. What are the primary elements of a cash budget and what types of items would one
find in each of the elements? Be specific in your answer.