Nearly half of large Asia-Pacific companies have fallen victim to financial crime: Report

Thomson Reuters said its survey findings show the difficulty of tackling financial crime. PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Almost 50 per cent of large companies in the Asia-Pacific have been victims of fraud, theft, money laundering or other financial crimes, according to a new report by Thomson Reuters.

In its first such study, Thomson Reuters surveyed over 2,300 senior managers from large firms, both publicly-listed and privately-held, across 19 countries, including Singapore, the US, China and India.

Its report, "Revealing the True Cost of Financial Crime", showed that 49 per cent of respondents in the Asia-Pacific admitted that their organisation had suffered at least one incident of financial crime over the past 12 months, with cybercrime and fraud cited as the most common.

This is despite companies allocating about 3.1 per cent of their annual spending towards combating financial crime.

Said Julia Walker, head of risk and regulatory technology, Asia Pacific Thomson Reuters, said: "Financial institutions are carrying the financial burden collectively spending billions trying to prevent money laundering and the proceeds of illicit activity. Year on year, they are seeing greater amounts disappear from their business as result."

Thomson Reuters said its survey findings show the difficulty of tackling financial crime. Nearly 90 per cent of respondents said they struggled to educate and influence colleagues on bribery and corruption. Only 50 per cent fully implement workflow and process reports and fully train and educate their customers, third-party vendors, suppliers or partners.

The report also highlighted that most corporations across the globe do not realise the true cost of financial crime which extends beyond financial and reputational damage to societal evils such as modern day slavery and human trafficking.

"Financial crime is not a faceless crime, the most vulnerable in our society are preyed on and exploited by organised crime for profit," said Ms Walker.

Almost all those surveyed recognised that greater collaboration is vital to winning the war against financial crime, with 94 per cent of companies believing there should be more sharing of financial intelligence, while 93 per cent said that public-private partnerships should be increased and improved.

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