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MKD guides companies to set internal safety plans

Companies require internal security controls to protect against possible wrongdoing by employees or external sources, says Jim Downs, founding partner and managing director of MKD International Inc.

Establishing a protective shield helps enhance a business's reputation by showing it is willing and able to quickly deal with any crisis, he says.

A strong reputation boosts financial strength, Downs tells

"It all starts with due diligence and screening of the people you hire at the front end," he says.

Some companies have been forced out of business because they didn't have proper security and monitoring measures in place for staff, Downs notes.

"For small- and medium-sized companies, even one problem individual can cause a ton of grief and financial distress," he says.

MKD provides the template for procedures and programs for businesses to protect themselves internally from criminal or civil wrongdoing and reputational threat.

Background checks are used to determine if potential staff members were involved in crime in the past or are vulnerable to external pressures, says the retired Toronto Police Intelligence Unit detective.

Downs urges businesses to review credit ratings and records of a potential employee before putting them in a position of trust with access to funds, property or assets.

"If you have an individual in a position of trust who has access to assets, physical or otherwise, could they be a potential risk?" he says. "What's their credit like? Are they always in debt? Or is everything good?"

You can see by a person's financial history if they can manage money or if they are in serious debt, Downs explains.

He cites a case MKD recently investigated where a company sought to include a person in a multimillion-dollar deal only to find they had been convicted of fraud. 

An employer armed with that knowledge could then decide whether hiring that person is an acceptable risk, Downs says.

"That's your starting point, but it's not a guarantee" that all risks will be identified or eliminated, he says. It can give you some information and intelligence on the individual being hired, he adds.

"You want to have checks and balances within the corporate structure, so if a crisis is triggered, then you have the ability to deal with it as soon as possible," Downs says.

Those controls include company policies to govern the use of its tools and property, such as computers. It's important to be transparent and advise employees they could be monitored in the use of company equipment, he says.

Businesses can run into problems with employees who are stealing the company's equipment, inventory or time, Downs points out.

MDK is sometimes retained to determine whether employees who booked off sick were ill or actually working freelance.

The firm works with companies on a global basis to establish policies and assist in developing programs to enhance corporate security and employee screenings, Downs says.

"We can offer guidance on how to institute some of these programs, checks and balances or due-diligence," he says.

Red flags indicating something has gone awry are only raised when controls are firmly in place, Downs says. 

"If you don't institute a program or due diligence in some form, there won't be any red flags and you're not going to see the problems," he says. "You need proper oversight to ensure that everything is accounted for."

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