Message from our President and Executive Director
Recently, both the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star featured news articles about the fraud that was discovered at New Visions Toronto in 2015.
October 23rd, 2019 Statement Related to the 2015 Fraud that Occurred at New Visions Toronto
Recently, both the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star featured news articles about the fraud that was discovered at New Visions Toronto in 2015. As a result of these articles, some members of the community have made donations to our agency, and we are very grateful for your kindness and support. We have also had others question how a crime like this could have occurred and what has been done to prevent it from happening again. Simply, our former Director of Finance and Administration took advantage of the trust we had placed in her. As Judge Quigley stated to the now-convicted person, “You did that through a callous and calculated payroll robbery plan that you knew would be immune to detection. This was a complex and well-planned fraud that was an egregious breach of trust. As a professional chartered accountant, (you) violated your ethical, moral and professional responsibilities to the organization that trusted you.” The Director of Finance and Administration in any agency is one of the most trusted positions, and as we discovered sometimes they can be dishonest. Because of the high position of trust and the skills needed to do their job, if they choose to be dishonest their crime can be hidden for a long time and sadly in some situations can go without being detected at all.
Agencies like New Visions Toronto are required to have Audited Financial Statements prepared on an annual basis. New Visions Toronto has always done this, yet this crime was still able to be carried out for many years without being detected. In early 2015 the Board of Directors established a Finance Committee that met monthly to review the financial matters of our agency. It was their scrutiny and not accepting many of the answers from our former Director of Finance and Administration to their numerous questions that first indicated things may not be as they appear. The concerns that the Finance Committee had were confirmed by the agency’s newly appointed Auditors that fraud may be taking place, but in May of 2015 there was no evidence to confirm this suspicion. In July 2015, the agency contracted Sandra Essex as our interim Director of Finance and Administration. Sandra, along with our Auditors, spent hundreds of hours reviewing bank statements, payroll ledgers and other financial statements that were used to hide the fraud. We are very grateful that their expertise brought this crime to light and ultimately provided the evidence needed to contact the police resulting in the conviction of the former Director of Finance and Administration. We are also thankful for the great investigative work completed by officers Sean Imrie and Guy Kama of Toronto Police Services. Their gathering of the thousands of pages of information allowed the Crown, Mr. Andrew Max to present a solid case and ensure that a guilty verdict could have been the only result any reasonable person would have reached.
As a result of the fraud, a number of changes have been implemented in our finance department. A key change was the segregation of duties to ensure that no single person has the opportunity to control and implement all elements of payroll and other banking transactions.
We want to acknowledge the wonderful support we received and continue to receive from our Ministry representatives at the Toronto Region Office. Without this, our agency would not have survived this catastrophic situation.
We thank you for your interest in New Visions Toronto and your ongoing support.
Fonda Zettler, Andy Rotsma
President, Board of Directors Executive Director