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Corporate fraud on the rise post-GFC

Corporate fraud on the rise post-GFC

Boards and audit committees are focusing more on fraud risk, particularly prevention and detection, in the aftermath of the GFC, according to Gary Gill, partner-in-charge of KPMG's forensic…

Boards and audit committees are focusing more on fraud risk, particularly prevention and detection, in the aftermath of the GFC, according to Gary Gill, partner-in-charge of KPMG's forensic advisory practice.

The downsizing of workforces during the GFC had resulted in a weakening of internal controls, particularly in segregation of duties, which had led to an increase in fraud, Gill said.

In addition, the downturn has led to a stronger focus on the bottom line, which had resulted in the detection of a number of frauds, some of which are particularly large and have been perpetrated over many years.

"We so often find that the faithful employee who has tirelessly worked in the company for years, never taking a sick day is actually the one fiddling the books," Gill said.

"While they may seem to be very diligent and even fiercely protective of their work, in the end it turns out they've been working on something far more sinister. A good example is a long-term accounting or invoicing scam that nobody has noticed because they're doing their own checks and balances."

KPMG's Fraud Barometer found fraud prosecuted through the courts more than doubled in the six months to December 2009, compared with the six months to June 2009. Furthermore, banks and other financial institutions now account for one third of the fraud cases prosecuted nationally.

"Technology has been a key driver in enabling crime to thrive," said Gill.

"We expect to continue to see a rising number of victims, with identity fraud, skimming of ATMs, money laundering, fraudulent loans and credit card scams all on the increase."

The growth in electronic technology has made it easier to perpetrate fraud, according to Gill, but generally because organisations fail to implement appropriate human controls around such technology rather than because of inherent weaknesses in the technology.

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