The top human resources executive at the publisher of Inc Magazine and Fast Company allegedly stole more than $429,000 from the business-focused media company.
In a criminal complaint filed late last month, federal prosecutors said that over the course of four years, Mansueto Ventures director of people and resources Nirvani Sabess siphoned money away from the company by continuing to pay employees who were on leave or had already left the company, and diverting the salaries into her bank accounts.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mansueto Ventures, the parent company of the two business publications, confirmed that it recently discovered an individual was defrauding the company.
“Mansueto Ventures recently discovered that one of its former employees was allegedly committing financial fraud against the company, amounting to mid-six-figures,” a spokesperson said. “We immediately launched an internal investigation, then referred the matter to law enforcement and terminated the sole employee involved. As a result we are strengthening the security of all our systems.”
Sabess was fired by Mansueto in April. According to court documents, she was arrested on Monday, and currently faces charges of identity theft and wire fraud.
The complaint alleged that the HR director changed the direct deposit information of several of the company’s former employees, directing the money into her own bank account, and adding an extra $15,000 to an annual bonus.
In one instance, she diverted nearly $60,000 to her bank account from the salary of an employee who was on unpaid leave. In three other instances, she continued to pay several employees who had left the company, switching the routing numbers to her bank account. In total, she collected a little over an estimated $429,000 on top of her existing salary, according to the complaint.
In a statement, Sabess' attorney Robert Tsigler said people should "be patient and wait for all the facts to come out before making any suppositions or conclusions in this matter."
While nearly half a million dollars over four years may be a rounding error for some of the companies that Fast Company and Inc. Magazine write about, that’s not an insignificant amount for Mansueto Ventures, the business publications purchased by billionaire Joe Mansueto in 2005. Both companies maintain small staffs, and have maintained relevance by creating content, awards, and events aimed at helping entrepreneurs gain greater business insights and inspiration.
While they are dwarfed by large business publications, Mansueto Ventures weathered the pandemic and has touted recent success in areas such as live events and podcasts. But Fast Company was also the subject of an embarrassing hack last year that shut the site down for multiple days.