Regina vs. Mel Kurtz


VP Construction costs $21,500

This case gave me my first experience giving evidence in a bribery trial, which is legally described as “unlawfully accepting a secret commission.”

Kurtz was convicted in February 1977 for receiving $21,500 as vice-president of a construction company. At issue in the case was the question of who was really the guilty party, the payor or the payee. From the payor’s perspective, it is essential to examine the family of companies associated with the contracting party when looking for the source of the payment. It will be somewhere, because the payor views the payment as simply another cost of doing business and therefore tax deductible.

For a forensic accountant, however, a bribe investigation is another example of the need for a free-floating mind to identify all the possible sources of funds before you begin to eliminate and narrow your focus on the paper trail. At the same time one should be cognizant of the tendency for the bribe to be paid soon after the benefit is conferred, part of the fraud knowledge.