Some people just cannot resist putting their hands in the proverbial company cookie jar. Read on for tips for what to do if you have concerns that your business parter is stealing money or goods from your business, or using them for his or her personal use.
First, you must act quickly and carefully to protect your interest and to keep yourself out of hot water. The first thing you should do is locate a copy of your operating agreement, partnership agreement, or bylaws. If you never got around to reducing your agreement to writing, perhaps now you are realizing why that step is so important. Even if you do not have a formal agreement, gather any emails, letters, napkin writings, whatever, that will be helpful to prove the agreement with your partner. If you do not have any formal agreement, Florida’s “default” LLC rules will apply to you.
Next, read the agreement (and consult an attorney) to see what it says about obtaining books and records of the organization. Many business agreements contain detailed information about when and how the partners or members are allowed to review the books and records. You still need to comply with “the rules” of your agreement during the time you are investigating your partner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use all options available to you to obtain the information that you need. For example, review (and print or save) the bank accounts of the company directly (if you have that access — as a partner or managing member, you should), talk to loan officers that work with your company, or even speak with vendors or employees of the company if you think it may be done appropriately. Also consider whether company records on the cloud or at remote locations might be easily corrupted or deleted without your knowledge.