“I work with an international Christian NGO called Help for All (HfA).

I had travelled to one of our Country Programme in June 2007. One of our funds was fully spent although my calculations showed this should not be so. A check revealed six payments of exactly the same amount, for the same contract. We found that a locally employed Christian accountant had developed a system to present invoices and have cheques signed that he would then cash for himself. He had escaped discovery for six years. He had grown rich and had many friends. He paid hefty tithes and offerings in the local church. He repaid some money he had taken, but sadly after more losses were discovered he committed suicide!

His fellow nationals (members of staff) thought his misdeeds had been reported by their most senior local colleague and were intensely angry with that colleague. Group loyalty was felt more strongly than their obligation to protect institutional funds and more important Christian integrity. I boasted that I had detected the fraud, and helped rebuild relationships when I said at his funeral that I had liked and admired our accountant and appreciated his efforts to make good the losses, and that at the end all of us will need forgiveness. But I learnt the moral strength of personal loyalty within a group possibly exacerbated because group members thought of themselves as “poor” nationals dealing with expatriates from a rich country.”