In a year when many companies adopted a host of new anticorruption measures, global fraud levels also dipped, according to a new executive survey that also shows corporations facing a rising tide of insider threats.
The sixth annual Global Fraud Survey from Kroll Advisory Solutions polled 839 senior executives around the world.
“The most striking result of this year’s survey is that there has been notable decline in the level of fraud overall,” according to the authors. “The proportion of companies reporting that they were affected by at least one incidence of fraud in the past year had dropped for the second year in a row, from 75 percent to 61 percent.”
The drop paid off on the bottom line, too. On average, the cost of fraud to companies fell from 2.1 percent of revenues to 0.9 percent.
At the same time, the survey noted that more companies are adopting risk mitigation and compliance measures when it comes to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the U.K. Bribery Act.
“Compared with last year, far more have done a risk assessment relating to these pieces of legislation, trained senior managers appropriately, and integrated corruption issues into their due diligence activities,” the report states.
For example, in 2011 only 26 percent of survey respondents said they had put bribery-risk monitoring and reporting systems in place. This year, that figure jumped to 52 percent of respondents. Likewise, where 29 percent of companies said they trained employees and vendors on antibribery compliance in 2011, 55 percent said they had done so in 2012.
However, more than 20 percent of survey respondents said that “although they are subject to the U.K. Bribery Act or U.S. FCPA, they have not made a thorough risk assessment, trained the right people, or amended their due diligence process.”
The survey’s 2012 view of insider threats looked grimmer than last year. “Fully two-thirds of firms in our survey that were hit by fraud during the past year cited an insider as a key perpetrator, rising from 60 percent last year and 55 percent in 2010,” according to the report.
Information theft also proved a stubborn and dynamic threat to corporations, according to the findings. Prevalence of this type of fraud declined only two percentage points, from 23 percent of companies last year to 21 percent this year. Such an attack, the authors add, also “remains the fraud to which respondents feel most vulnerable — 30 percent say they are moderately or highly so.”
This class of thieves seeks customer data, as well as a company’s financial and strategic data — and employees often prove either the culprits or the gateway to access that info.
“Where there has been a loss, 35 percent of the time the issue is employee malfeasance, more than twice the rate at which external hackers are to blame (17 percent),” according to the Kroll report, adding that employees are often unwitting accomplices to digital theft, too: “Moreover, in 51 percent of cases, the theft of an employee’s technology (such as a computer or mobile phone) or an employee mistake was involved.”
Ultimately, the report warned companies to steer clear of complacency. “A lack of attention can be costly: companies that lose the most to fraud are those that are less likely to have fraud controls in place,” say the authors.