Ways to prevent corporate fraud
C orporate fraud - is theft, which leads the company to a financial loss. Millions of businesses around the world are faced with corporate theft every year.
The international auditing company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as part of the preparation of the World Economic Crime Survey 2016, surveyed more than 6 thousand participants from 115 countries. Despite a slight overall decrease in the number of registered economic crimes, the financial cost of an individual fraudulent activity increases every year. 14% of respondents have experienced losses in excess of $ 1 million over the past two years. According to PwC, Russia ranks 1st in the ranking of countries in the world in terms of corporate fraud (71%).
Only intentional acts are considered fraud. If the valuable data was unknowingly issued by the employee, such a process is referred to as information leakage. The law defines the following bases:
- Corporate fraud is considered an encroachment on someone else's property, therefore, if a crime is disclosed, the culprit should be held accountable not only for violation of corporate order, but also for theft and possession of other people's property, money, securities and other things.
- It is important not only to prove the fact of fraud, but also to find the one who stole the company's valuable data. The director of the enterprise or the security department cannot place the blame on an employee whose guilt has not been proven, even if that employee was responsible for processing the information.
- The punishment for fraud is determined by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Articles 158, 161, 162, 163 and 165 - theft and secret theft, misappropriation of property, robbery and assault, extortion and property damage by deception).
Threats to enterprises
Among the main threats to business, there are competitors, regulatory and investigative bodies, the tax system, the crisis, exchange rates and other economic factors. However, the world experience of recent decades shows that unexpected and even more serious threats to business are not crisis phenomena, but their own employees. It is they, from the courier and the cleaning lady to the CEO or chairman of the board, who are the main cause of the company's losses.
Statistics and expert assessments indicate that companies' losses from their own employees can reach 90% of the total losses. Therefore, the severe consequences of corporate fraud are not comparable to the known crisis factors.
Statistics from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners show that global companies lose about 6% of their turnover due to fraudulent actions by their own employees. At the same time, spending on business intelligence in modern Western companies ranges from 0.5 to 1.0% of turnover. In Russia, exploration costs do not even reach 0.5% of turnover, so there are more cases of fraud.
Reasons for fraud
The reasons contributing to the commission of corporate fraud operate on several levels. In the process of world globalization, the following levels are distinguished at which fraudulent actions are committed:
- interstate level;
- the level of individual states;
- the level of corporations.
Considering the above levels, the following reasons for corporate fraud are distinguished:
- shadow economy;
- post-communist system;
- corporate development;
- the level of the country's economy.
It is important to note that researchers highlight different options when constructing a ranking of the leading causes of fraud. Some Western experts consider the main reasons for the shadow economy, the post-communist system, corruption and oligarchization. At the same time, in practice, business owners observe such reasons for fraud as the level of the economy and the development of corporations.
Ample opportunities for fraud open up in a system where the economy is highly developed and there are large enterprises. That is, where there is more turnover, there are more prerequisites for fraudulent appropriation of money and valuable property. However, other reasons should not be ruled out: low income of employees, lack of motivation and personal differences.
In general, all reasons can be attributed to one of two groups:
Objective factors of corporate fraud
Each enterprise has its own prerequisites for the development of corporate fraud. Among them:
- lack of a structure and a well-established system of interaction between all departments of the company;
- no access restriction system;
- lack of accounting for goods and material values;
- the presence of functional gaps in the technology of production processes;
- subjective factors of corporate fraud;
- lack of formalization of relations between employees of managerial positions;
- lack of a personnel selection and screening system;
- the presence of employees who own trade secrets, and their actions are not controlled by the security department;
- lack of motivation and incentives for staff;
- lack of adaptation and the possibility of free advanced training;
- lack of a control system for the execution of orders.
How to prevent corporate theft?
When considering the problem of corporate fraud, it is necessary to determine the system of threats to the business. They are:
- financial and economic;
In order to neutralize the intellectual type of threats, it is necessary to register the right of ownership (intellectual property), a share in the authorized capital in time, take measures to preserve trade secrets, properly execute documents, trade marks, patents, and the like.
Financial and economic types of threats are eliminated by introducing proper accounting and control. It is necessary to establish management accounting, automate and computerize all processes, constantly save information, distribute the responsibilities of employees, clearly write job descriptions, form a staffing table and formalize employees. The delineation of financial and control functions, the conduct of inventories and control checks, the conclusion of agreements on full liability will not interfere. Also, one should not forget about access restriction, security and alarm and video surveillance systems. If the facility is secure, these components are mandatory.
Physical types of threats are neutralized by introducing zoning measures and providing limited access. In addition, for this purpose, the perimeter and internal premises (gratings, metal doors, safes) are strengthened, access control and physical security, video surveillance are provided, technical controls are used, and the like.
Analyzing the main motives of fraud, Western experts came to the conclusion that the motivation for fraudulent actions can be reduced to a simple geometric figure - a triangle, the vertices of which form a single motivation system:
Consider the main motives behind fraudulent activities, namely opportunity, pressure and self-justification.
Opportunity implies the presence of such conditions in the enterprise that may contribute to the commission of fraudulent activities:
- lack of control by management over the work of subordinates;
- lack of control over the quality of products or services provided. As a result, the quantitative indicators seem to be met, but the enterprise loses its competitive advantages in the market of products and services due to poor quality;
- lack of production discipline and internal control systems, when the work of subordinates is allowed to "take its own course";
- provision of inaccurate information, when managers are satisfied with any excuses from subordinates, all information, regardless of its reliability, or the reliability of information is not checked at all;
- indifference from management or colleagues. An unscrupulous employee uses the material, financial and other resources of the enterprise to meet his own needs or the needs of outsiders, and the management and colleagues do not pay attention to this or ignore such cases;
- lack of audits and audits. Even in obligatory cases, inventories and audits are not carried out and financially responsible persons, as well as the movement of material values, are not controlled.
Pressure is external and internal circumstances that induce a person to commit fraudulent activities.
Financial pressures can take the form of:
- big debts;
- significant financial losses;
- the need to pay large bills;
- participation in risky financial transactions.
Self-justifications are verbal formulas with which the cheater soothes his conscience. These include: "I am not appreciated", "I deserve more", "No one will get any worse from this", "everyone does this", "the company owes me that way", "I will return the money as soon as I can", " I will take a certain amount temporarily, no one will notice ”and others.
It is clear that in order to level the wrongful actions on the part of employees, it is necessary to take into account the triangle of fraud and take preventive measures, study the needs, interests and moral and psychological state of employees. A leading place in this is assigned to the implementation of a team of events that form corporate loyalty and identity.
How to identify the fact of fraud?
Identifying the facts of fraud requires appropriate preparation and understanding of the sources through which it is implemented. Such sources are not only given close attention, some of them need to be artificially created and maintained in a permanent state. Possible sources of fraud detection include:
- Informal communication of employees;
- Results of inventories, audits, audits;
- "Hot line" (answering machine, mailbox, etc.);
- Identification of the fact of fraud by the security service.
It is known that any fraudulent activity leaves certain material traces that send informative signals to the analyst.
Corporate fraud can occur at several levels of personnel: employees, decision makers, and outside organizations.
At the level of employees, the signs of fraud are deviations in primary documents and deviations from the average values of indicators.
So, the first deviation is manifested in the following signs:
- overdue account transactions;
- double payments;
- dubious details;
- meaningless document sequences;
- copies of accounting documents, not their originals;
- receivables or payables reminders and claims;
- shortage at the box office;
- making payments late and the like.
Deviations from the average values of indicators can be detected as a result of analytical processing of aggregate data by directions, departments or other divisions of the company. They manifest themselves in the following symptoms:
- shortages or surpluses;
- increase in residues;
- re-sorting of goods;
- deviations from specifications;
- incomprehensible differences with physical characteristics and the like.
At the level of decision-makers, signs of fraud are:
- deviation of financial indicators from average values (decrease in profits, high debts, large overhead costs);
- relations with employees of competitive firms;
- interaction with customers (cooperation with questionable suppliers);
- pressure from political, environmental or social organizations.
It is important to pay special attention to competitive organizations. Most companies do not perceive this level as a real threat and the main reason for fraudulent activities, but the third-party level not only exists, but also has two components: commercial enterprises and regulatory authorities.
As you know, not all commercial corporations in our country get advantages in fair competition. Some use fraudulent activities to steal inside information, manufacturing techniques, industrial designs, customer databases, and the like.
It is no secret that certain employees of the regulatory bodies of our state are ready, even in contradiction with the law, to create such situations and conditions under which the company is ready to “donate” certain material resources to overcome or resolve such situations. And this is a manifestation of fraudulent actions on the part of third-party organizations - regulatory authorities.
How to counteract?
There is a universal algorithm for investigating fraud, which provides ways to get answers to the following questions:
- Who! (finding the level, department, person who could commit fraud).
- Why? (search for an answer and clarification of the reasons for the crime).
- How? (identifying a way to commit fraud).
When collecting evidence of fraudulent activities, investigators or hired detectives may use the square of evidence to fully and systematically document the fraud.
- A - evidence obtained from witnesses (explanation, message, appeal).
- B - documentary evidence (accounting documents, invoices, checks, acts, certificates, etc.).
- C - material evidence (items containing traces of fraud, or tools, thanks to which the fraud was committed; electronic and other media containing audiovisual information about the fact of theft).
- D - evidence obtained as a result of observation of the fraudster or his accomplices.
It is necessary to understand that the development of technology, along with progressive changes in society, provides fraudsters with ample opportunities and contributes to the emergence of new methods of deception. It is necessary to take this into account in the structure of corporations and introduce appropriate preventive mechanisms, as well as improve the professional level of security specialists.