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In 2019, the credit union industry was baffled by yet another high-profile case of embezzlement by a credit union CEO. How could an employee of the $21 million CBS Employees Federal Credit Union pilfer an incredible $40 million? Finger pointing at all the individual areas of failure may provide some relief to those involved, but it does nothing to deter future malicious actors from achieving similar results. But with a few simple steps, the industry can get on the right track and it starts with one thing: Getting back to the basics.

As a 30-year veteran of the industry, including time spent as an examiner and audit and compliance specialist, I’ve taken it upon myself to help credit unions safeguard themselves against these kinds of situations. In reviewing the case at CBS Employees, it became clear that basic internal controls were being ignored. Now’s a great time to evaluate your own internal mechanisms. Some of these may seem self-evident, but based on this embezzlement case and many others, they may simply have been forgotten.

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