Embezzlement and Kickback Schemes
Many companies and businesses in Georgia will allow one or more employees to handle financial matters or deal with the process of hiring or vetting contractors. Employers typically expect their employees to engage in practices that will benefit the business rather than themselves. Still, some employees, unfortunately, partake in fraudulent and self-dealing behavior like embezzlement and kickback schemes. Such acts are not only unlawful, but they also often cause significant financial losses. If you believe a former employee engaged in unethical behavior to your detriment, you may be able to recover compensation via a civil lawsuit, and you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The knowledgeable Atlanta business litigation lawyers of Poole Huffman can advise you of your potential claims and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable result. We regularly represent individuals and companies in business litigation matters in metro Atlanta, Decatur, and throughout Georgia.Embezzlement and Kickback Schemes in Georgia
Embezzlement and kickback schemes both fall under the umbrella of fraud for the purposes of financial gain, but they differ in certain key aspects.
Georgia law defines embezzlement as the act of obtaining another party’s funds or property through lawful means, under an agreement or understanding that it will be used for a particular purpose but then using the property for their own use, in violation of the agreement. For example, if a company treasurer has access to company accounts to pay vendors or contractors but falsifies records and invoices for the purpose of siphoning money out of the accounts, it most likely constitutes embezzlement.
Kickback schemes involve one party agreeing to give another party preferential treatment in exchange for compensation. In other words, if a company employee agrees to enter into a contract with a third party on behalf of the company in exchange for money paid directly to the employee, it may be considered a kickback scheme.Civil Claims Arising Out of Embezzlement and Kickback Schemes
Numerous state and federal laws criminalize embezzlement and kickback schemes. In addition to facing criminal penalties, individuals who engage in such behavior may be held liable for civil damages as well. The precise causes of action a plaintiff seeking compensation for embezzlement or harm caused by a kickback scheme will assert may vary depending on the facts of the case, but in many instances, will include fraud and breach of fiduciary duty claims.
In Georgia, a plaintiff alleging fraud must show that the defendant misrepresented or concealed a material fact and that the plaintiff relied on the false statement and suffered economic harm as a result. Similarly, establishing a breach of fiduciary duty requires a plaintiff to show the existence of a fiduciary relationship, a violation of the responsibilities that arise out of the relationship, and financial losses caused by the breach. In Georgia, a fiduciary duty exists when one party places confidence or trust in an individual with respect to a specific transaction or financial matter. For example, business partners typically owe each other the duties of trust, honesty, and loyalty.
A plaintiff that proves harm caused by embezzlement and kickback schemes can often recover actual or compensatory damages. If the judge or jury finds that the defendant’s conduct was egregious, the plaintiff may also be awarded punitive damages.Speak to a Trusted Atlanta Attorney
Businesses should be able to trust their employees to uphold their ethical and legal obligations, but some employees choose to ignore their responsibilities and participate in embezzlement and kickback schemes. If you believe your company suffered harm because of an employee or officer’s fraudulent activity, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to recover. The trusted Atlanta lawyers of Poole Huffman possess the knowledge and resources needed to navigate complex business disputes, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. We routinely represent parties in lawsuits arising out of kickback agreements and embezzlement in metro Atlanta, Decatur, and throughout Georgia. We also help people with business litigation issues in cities throughout DeKalb, Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties as well. You can reach us at 404-373-4008 or through our online form to set up a confidential consultation.