Monday 20 May 2019

Modern Thieves Are More Potent

One of the places where tourists should not miss when visiting Kota Bharu is what I refer to as the Historical Circuit. It is located around Istana Balai Besar, Istana Jahar, Padang Merdeka, Masjid Muhammadi and few another historical sites which define Kota Bharu in the past.

Istana Balai Besar is still being used for official ceremonies such as during the birthday of the Sultan or when new Sultans are proclaimed. It is surrounded by  tall wooden walls which make the interior part to be hidden from the public. There are a number of historical structures around Istana Balai Besar such as old cannons and Bank Pitis. Bank Pitis was the state treasury where the wealth of the state was kept. It is a small strong house built out of bricks and cement. Any thief who wanted to steal the wealth kept inside had to break its door, at least.

Bank Pitis
Stealing in the modern era has changed so much that sometimes the public could be confused by the act and consider it as something honourable. If we follow the reports on how corporations lost their money through corporate scandals, these scandals were structured carefully so that the crimes were hidden until such time where the stolen assets were already distributed around the world and to recover those assets required serious efforts with the cooperations of enforcement agencies from those jurisdictions which could be challenging.

Modern stealing requires brain power and real power. The brain power would device the schemes and the real power such as those held by directors would execute the schemes for themselves or on behalf of those outside the organisations who would eventually benefit from the crime. The schemes could be structured as investments into assets where their prices are highly inflated or as contracts where a huge sum would be contracted out to parties who are part of the schemes. No real goods or services will be provided to the victim organisations. 

Due to the nature of modern thefts, the amount involved had reached into billions, in whatever currencies we talk about. Hence, the impact is much greater compared to, if Bank Pitis was broken into in the old days. It would be easier to track down the thieves of Bank Pitis and the stolen good could be easily identified compared to the lost zeroes in bank accounts of the victims of modern thefts. Worse, some organisations raised bonds before those monies were stolen. So, they ended up with liabilities which have to be repaid over a long period of time.

What could be stolen by modern thieves would make
breaking into Bank Pitis like stealing loose change only
Hence, it is critical for modern organisations to strengthen their internal control and governance processes so that they would not fall victims to these smart and resourceful thieves. Selection of senior management and board members must include integrity assessments, as those who are willing to compromise their integrity could cause huge damages if they decided to turn rouge. 

We should also educate the public that white collar crimes are worse than stealing goats or cows or hard cash, notwithstanding these crooks become donors and give out money to charities and religious organisations. Stolen money should remain as such, stolen money. Don't glorify thieves.