One in four Singapore-based firms hit by economic crime: PwC survey

Economic crimes against businesses have risen across the globe, and firms with a presence here have not been spared.

A new global survey conducted by consultancy PwC found that one in four Singapore-based companies have experienced some form of economic crime within the last two years.

This is the first time the survey included local and locally-based firms, which made up 82 of the 5,128 respondents, PwC said on Wednesday.

Among those which had fallen prey to economic crime, 80 per cent said they had encountered asset misappropriation. This includes embezzlement, deception by employees as well as the theft of cash or supplies and equipment.

The survey found that the root cause of asset misappropriation stemmed from misplaced reliance or trust, coupled with a weak compliance culture towards controls in the organisation.

For instance, long-serving staff tend to be accorded a higher level of trust, which can lull management into a false sense of security.

Bribery and corruption tied with cybercrime as the second most common form of economic crimes faced by firms here. Both were encountered by 15 per cent of the affected respondents.

Mr Chan Kheng Tek, the forensics leader at PwC Singapore, said: "Like a stubborn virus, economic crime persists despite ongoing efforts to combat it.

"No organisation of any size anywhere in the world is immune to the impact of fraud and economic crime."

He noted that perpetrators of economic crimes had succeeded by exploiting the weaknesses of firms when they rely on technology or expand into emerging economies.

The study also found that among the 82 Singapore-based respondents, 35 per cent of did not conduct fraud risk assessments or were unaware if such checks were in place.

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