Business partnerships are like many other kinds of relationships, so it can be particularly upsetting to discover that your partner stole or is stealing from the company.
In the event a business partner breaks your trust, what can you do about it? The answer will be partially based on the nature of the theft, but the goal will likely include recovering stolen property, seeking damages or cash.
Common types of business theft
It may be a simple instance where a partner took assets or cash, but it often something more complicated than that:
- Fraud: This covers a wide range of transgressions but involves redirecting funds for private use. The partner must be caught intentionally lying, and this lie needs to have harmed the victim in some way. A government official can turn this into a criminal case.
- Embezzlement: This involves a person with access to assets (such as a signatory on a bank account) taking those assets for themselves. They covertly misappropriate assets for personal gain with no intention of returning them.
- Fiduciary Duty: This is an agreement where the partner is supposed to work for the benefit of the company, but they breach that duty by serving their own interests outside the scope of the business. This can include sharing proprietary information or company secrets with competitors and outside business partners.
Building a case against them
A partner can start building a case against the thief by gathering evidence. The goal is to prove that it was purposeful theft and not an honest mistake or misunderstanding. Monitoring accounts or business credit cards can be helpful in identifying a paper trail. Gathering relevant receipts of spending, transfers or withdrawals will build a stronger case.
Gathering these details can help confirm the nature of the theft. An attorney can help determine whether criminal charges and penalties are on the table.