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fresco
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The latest and juiciest political scandal in Canada involves the high living habits of the federal privacy commissioner, who ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in restaurant and travel expenses in contravention of public service guidelines.

In this case, it's pretty clear that the guy was way out of line. But in the private sector, corporations seem content to let some senior officials spend endlessly--and only start questioning restaurant tabs and other perqs when they're trying to find excuses to get rid of someone. Then, mysteriously, newspapers start getting leaked photocopies of itemized expense accounts, with special attention paid to expensive blowouts at well known establishments.

When it comes to expense account abuse, how do you distinguish between witch hunts and white collar crime?

http://www.nationalpost.com/national/story...FE-71F36C31A0AA

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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This guy, "Federal Privacy Commissioner", could not have been too bright or definitely he was not qualified for the job ('privacy ?), so as to a scandal to develop. He could not keep his own doings 'privat'.

Peter
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When it comes to expense account abuse, how do you distinguish between witch hunts and white collar crime?

By having policies that clearly define appropriate T&E expenses.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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When it comes to expense account abuse, how do you distinguish between witch hunts and white collar crime?

By having policies that clearly define appropriate T&E expenses.

right. and then people need to decide to either play within the bounds, or stretch them inappropriately. if you're honest and do the right thing, there's no worry. and, as with life in general, if you're not honest and don't do the right thing, bad things happen to you.

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There are numerous instances where the CEO's spending is approved by the board and its compensation committee. Then some disaster hits the company, and accusations fly that the board was not doing its job and should never have approved such outrageous expense claims, etc etc. In general, though I agree with both Fat Guy and Tommy.

Edited by fresco (log)
Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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By having policies that clearly define appropriate T&E expenses.

Ugh. Work for a pretty big company. Up until recently, they used to simply assign a meal cap for the day which was usually $55. During a trip to DC, I could usually get away with free continental breakfast at the hotel in the AM, a small salad or something for lunch and go to Morton's or some expensive place and blow the rest of the cap on a REALLY good dinner.

Now, they've wised up and they place caps on each meal (eg. $10 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $35 for dinner). By doing this, you're pretty much forced to go to mid-range restaurants for dinner

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[Now, they've wised up and they place caps on each meal (eg. $10 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $35 for dinner).  By doing this, you're pretty much forced to go to mid-range restaurants for dinner

Worked for a company with similar policies once upon a time.

The loophole was that you didn't need receipts for meals under $15.

Travelled to San Francisco with my assistant once, years ago, and between us we dropped about $600 at Flore de Li. We lived on crumbs (and a case of wine) for the rest of the week, then spent two days at a whiteboard with a calculator trying to squeeze the bill into our two expense reports. A three dollar receipt book can make all the difference (your ethics may vary).

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I used to travel extensively as a civilian employee for DoD (USAF, USMC & USA) just about all over the world. In the '80s we used to be restricted to certain amounts per meal per Day, not to exceed the daily area established 'per Diem'. Itemized Receipts needed be provided at end of travel and a travel voucher be filed with the local accounting department. Some changes applied later, no receipts were needed except a lodging receipt. Also legid travel times were logged to determine meal entitlements. Area per Diems are US Gov. established and apply to all branches.

Peter
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The Canadian Privacy Commissioner, whose expense account difficulties kicked off this discussion, seems to have taken his title too literally. The latest revelation is that he used liberal amounts of whiteout to hide expensive stopovers and itemized restaurant bills.

Using more ingenuity than the privacy commissioner was able to muster, members of parliament scrutinizing his expenses requisitioned the orginals:

http://canada.com/national/story.asp?id=08...DF-4E3FDB060FED

Edited by fresco (log)
Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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The loophole was that you didn't need receipts for meals under $15.

My understanding is that the IRS doesn't require receipts for amounts under $25. The company I worked for used the same guidelines, so that we would be in compliance if we were audited. For a time, I reviewed expense reports which was sort of interesting to see what people tried to get away with, and what their supervisors approved.

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A report in this week's Economist states that Jacques Chirac and his wife between them spent over 2.1M Euros ($1.2M) at the public expense on fruit and vegetables in the 8 years Chirac was mayor of Paris, before he became (laughably) President of France :laugh: That works out at $177 a day, and is quite separate from entertainment, for which they had another budget !!! The article is aptly entitled "Let them eat foie gras"

I wonder why Chirac's affairs are being investigated by the courts ? :raz:

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neil, those are just per diems though, yes? 

does everyone remember that wall streeter who tipped 10 grand on a huge bill?  didn't he get canned after all of the publicity?

The other big deal was the group of Barclay's execs who went out to celebrate a big deal closing. Even though it made $20mn in profits for the company, the bad publicity on a $10,000 dinner got them fired. So what if they ordered a flight of petrus, the company still kept $19,990,000 for their efforts.

It was unfortunate the company was executing hundreds of clerks the same week, bad timing on their part. Didn't see any senior execs forfeiting their pay for a month to help keep the clerks on board, even though the $20mn went into THEIR bonuses

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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While there are always exceptions, I actually loose money on entertaining, because I won't compromise for a lousy experience, and often exceed allowable amounts..which I don't claim, I just pay!

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I am the same way. Last year, I returned to a city where I had worked previously for a working weekend. I wanted to go to everyone of my favorite restaurants and had seven meals in 2 days. Even though my boss will generally reimburse me with no questions asked, i was too embarrassed to submit that many receipts and just ate some of them (figuratively and literally).

Bill Russell

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can i be your client?  :biggrin:

CAN I BE YOUR CLIENT BABY..CAN i WASH AWAY YOUR TEARS? I WILL STAND BY YOU fOOOOREEVVVER, pLEASE DONT' TAKE MY LOVE AWAAAAAYYYYY...

UMMM...Seriously, are you a registered democrat in Mercer County? :laugh::laugh:

Edited by Kim WB (log)
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UMMM...Seriously, are you a registered democrat in Mercer County?  :laugh:  :laugh:

i've had to register with the state, but for different reasons. :unsure:

Really, you are par excellence in the comebacks arena....bar none... great wit. I suspect you a re voting the way of the light ( and the left ) anyway...

but if not, I'd want you on my side!!! :laugh:

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[Now, they've wised up and they place caps on each meal (eg. $10 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $35 for dinner).  By doing this, you're pretty much forced to go to mid-range restaurants for dinner

Worked for a company with similar policies once upon a time.

The loophole was that you didn't need receipts for meals under $15.

Travelled to San Francisco with my assistant once, years ago, and between us we dropped about $600 at Flore de Li. We lived on crumbs (and a case of wine) for the rest of the week, then spent two days at a whiteboard with a calculator trying to squeeze the bill into our two expense reports. A three dollar receipt book can make all the difference (your ethics may vary).

Whats the difference between this and if you only spent $25 on the dinner but submitted the extra receipts anyway?

I once had a $35 cap for dinner. I just submitted 50 cents on the dollar.

beachfan

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When I've had per diems I've always seen them as opportunities. I use them like coupons: I know I'll get a $35 or whatever discount on my meal. Great. I've got no problem with getting a $60 meal for a net cost to me of $25. I've got to eat anyway. People in the business world are obsessed with this idea that they should spend zero dollars while on business travel. It makes no sense. It can be a lot more fun for just a few dollars.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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neil, those are just per diems though, yes? 

does everyone remember that wall streeter who tipped 10 grand on a huge bill?  didn't he get canned after all of the publicity?

The other big deal was the group of Barclay's execs who went out to celebrate a big deal closing. Even though it made $20mn in profits for the company, the bad publicity on a $10,000 dinner got them fired. So what if they ordered a flight of petrus, the company still kept $19,990,000 for their efforts.

It was unfortunate the company was executing hundreds of clerks the same week, bad timing on their part. Didn't see any senior execs forfeiting their pay for a month to help keep the clerks on board, even though the $20mn went into THEIR bonuses

Quite frankly, that was a stupid comment.

The job of the execs is to make money for the company, and lots of it. If it costs them a $10,000 dinner to do that, that is one thing -- if they spend $10,000 of company money celebrating, that's a wrongful expenditure of company funds. If they feel they are entitled to a pay raise or more benefits because of their excellent work on the deal, they should talk to the board of directors.

I'd hate to work for any company you run.

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