This Policy document intends to set out high level broad standards that will aid in the prevention, detection and investigation of fraud and misconduct against the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
This policy applies to any irregularity i.e. any fraud or misconduct, or suspected irregularity, involving employees/devotees as well as consultants, vendors, contractors, outside agencies doing business with representatives of such agencies, and/or any other parties with a business relationship with ISKCON. Any investigative activity required will be conducted without regard to the suspected wrongdoer’s length of service, position/title, or relationship with ISKCON.
FRAUD AND MISCONDUCT
It is prohibited for any devotees, employee or third party to carry out or undertake any act which constitutes Fraud or Misconduct against ISKCON.
Fraud. Fraud is an intentional act committed to secure an unfair or unlawful gain to him/herself or another person or to wrongfully deprive ISKCON of their financial interests and includes for the purposes of this Policy:
- Fraud: Consists of willful misrepresentation or deception with the intention of inducing a person to act thereon to ISKCON’s financial detriment. The detriment may either be direct (such as in the case of money that is stolen or embezzled) or indirect (such as in the case of the improper use of valuable information or misrepresentation in financial and other reports and statements).
- Corruption: Consists of giving an advantage to a third party in a way inconsistent with one’s official duties or the interests of ISKCON in exchange for some personal benefit. This normally occurs in the acceptance of a bribe.
Misconduct. Misconduct is a violation of law, regulation or ISKCON policy or unethical business conduct for personal benefit which causes or may cause economic harm or loss to ISKCON and includes for the purposes of this Policy:
- Abuse: Consists of the excessive or improper use of something, or the use of something in a manner contrary to the natural or legal rules for its use; the intentional destruction, diversion, manipulation, misapplication, maltreatment, or misuse of resources owned or operated by ISKCON; or extravagant or excessive use so as to abuse one’s position or authority. Extreme cases of Abuse may amount to instances of Fraud.
- Failure to act with Independence: Devotees and employees must be and act at all times in a manner which is independent of the interest of third parties. This means that devotees and employees must not (among other things) align their interest with that of a Contractor unless such interest is clearly and demonstrably for the benefit of ISKCON. Devotees and employees are expected to demonstrate in their every-day actions and attitudes such independence. While devotees and employees are expected and encouraged to build and support development of good long-term relationships and partnerships with third parties, such relationships should not lead to or create an environment where such independence is or may not be maintained or compromised.
- Failure to act with Honesty and Integrity. Every devotee and employee is required to act honestly, with integrity and otherwise in accordance with the Standards of Conduct in his or her activities with any other devotee, employee, contractor or person in relation to and within the scope of his or her responsibilities.
Participation. Any individual who participated in Fraud or Misconduct shall be considered to have carried out or undertaken such Fraud or Misconduct for the purposes of this Policy. Such participation shall include (a) knowingly lending any assistance to such prohibited acts and (b) knowledge of such prohibited act without reporting it in accordance with this Policy.
Management. ISKCON management particularly GBCs, Co-Directors, Deputy Directors, Divisional Heads and Department Heads are expected to act as leaders and promoters of this Policy and will be held to a generally accepted standard of conduct relative to his or her position in relation to the employees.
Below is a list of examples of fraud or misconduct:
- Any dishonest or fraudulent act.
- Misappropriation of funds, securities, supplies, or other assets.
- Impropriety in the handling or reporting of money or financial transactions.
- Profiteering as a result of insider knowledge of ISKCON’s activities.
- Disclosing confidential and proprietary information to outside parties.
- Disclosing to other persons’ confidential activities engaged in or contemplated by ISKCON.
- Accepting or seeking anything of material value from contractors, vendors, or persons providing services/materials to ISKCON. (Exception: Gifts less than Rs 5,000.00 in value – such gifts should be dealt with by the local management, department head, divisional head etc.)
- Destruction, removal, or inappropriate use of records, furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
- Any similar or related irregularity.
Management i.e. individuals or entities as defined or approved by the GBCom are responsible for the prevention and detection and fraud and misconduct as defined above.
Each member of the management team will be familiar with the types of irregularities that might occur within his or her area of responsibility and be alert for any indication of irregularity. Any irregularity that is detected or suspected must be reported either in person, phone or e-mail immediately to the Director of Ethics, Standards and Compliance or his representative who will provide an oversight to all investigations and consult when needed, with the internal Legal Department and other affected areas, both internal and external.
The Director of Ethics, Standards and Compliance will be appointed directly by the GBCom and will report directly to them. The General Manager of ESCO is appointed by the Director of Ethics, Standards and Compliance. Whenever needed the Director will appoint an investigator or investigation team and that investigator or investigation team will report back to the Director.
REPORTING OF FRAUD AND MISCONDUCT
Irregularities, other than fraud and misconduct, concerning an employee’s or devotee’s moral, ethical, or behavioral conduct should be reported to the Ethics, Standards and Compliance Office for review and ESCO will determine which authority will deal with said irregularity.
The employee or other complainant may choose to remain anonymous. All inquiries concerning the activity under investigation from the suspected individual, his or her attorney or representative, or any other inquirer should be directed to the Director. No information concerning the status of an investigation will be disclosed without the prior written approval of the Director.
The Ethics, Standards and Compliance Office has the primary responsibility for the investigation of all suspected misconduct acts as defined in the policy. In the event an investigation substantiates that misconduct has occurred, the Investigation Unit will conduct investigations as appropriate and issue reports to the Director of Ethics, Standards and Compliance Office, who will present it to the GBCom. Decisions to prosecute or refer the examination results to the appropriate law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies for independent investigation will be made in conjunction with internal legal counsel and the GBCom, as will all final decisions on the disposition of the case.
AUTHORIZATION FOR INVESTIGATION
Members of the Investigation Unit will have:
- Free and unrestricted access to all pertinent records and premises whether owned or rented, once permission has been granted from the relevant authority such as the Deputy Directors, Co-Directors and/or the GBCom.
- The authority to examine, copy, and/or remove all or any portion of the contents of files, desks, cabinets, and other storage facilities on ISKCON premises without prior knowledge or consent of any individuals who might use or have custody of any such items or facilities when it is within the scope of their investigation; again once permission has been granted from the relevant authority such as the GBCom.
The Investigation Unit treats all information received confidentially. Any employee/devotee who suspects dishonest activity will notify the Director of Ethics, Standards and Compliance immediately, and should not attempt to personally conduct investigations or interviews related to any suspected act of misconduct (see Reporting Procedures section below). Investigation results will not be disclosed or discussed with anyone other than those who have a legitimate need to know. This is important in order to avoid damaging the reputations of persons suspected but subsequently found innocent of wrongful conduct.
Once the report and recommendations from the Investigation Unit has been discussed and presented to the GBCom, the GBCom will be responsible for taking appropriate action to address said recommendations and for implementation of necessary remedial actions up to and including appropriate legal action.
If an investigation results in a recommendation to cease the employment/service of an individual (devotee or otherwise), that recommendation will be reviewed for approval by the GBCom, in consultation with the Director of Ethics, Standards and Compliance, the internal Legal Department and, if necessary, by outside counsel, before any such action is taken.
The Investigation Unit does not have the authority to cease an employee’s work or a devotee’s service. Should the Investigation Unit believe the management decision inappropriate with regard to the facts presented, or inconsistent with this Anti-Fraud and Misconduct Policy; the facts will be presented to GBCom for arbitration.
The Director of the Ethics, Standards and Compliance Office is responsible for the administration, revision, interpretation, and application of this policy. The policy will be reviewed annually and revised as needed.
Approved by GBCom 22/02/2103 with two abstentions