Economic crimes paint Kenya badly

November 30, 2011
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – Kenya leads the world in economic crime cases with 66 percent of respondents in the newly released Global Economic Crime Survey reporting incidences in the last 12 months.

This figure is nearly double the global average of 34 percent and is a nine percent increase from 2009 for Kenya, putting it at the front of the pack out of the 78 surveyed countries.

In the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, South Africa registered second with 60 percent, followed by the United Kingdom at 51 percent, and New Zealand with 50 percent in fourth place.

On the contrary Japan had the least reported economic crime incidences with six percent, while Indonesia was at 16 percent, and Slovenia and Greece both posted 17 percent each.

PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) Head of Regional Forensics Practice Martin Whitehead cited several factors explaining the prevalence levels in Kenya, highlighting an increasing opportunity to engage in economic crime.

“There is a lack of deterrence from engaging in economic crime, as well as complacency in dealing with the crime and ignorance in regard to cybercrime,” he said.

Cybercrime was a new item on the list of common economic crimes in Kenya coming in fourth, with nearly a quarter of victims saying they were subject to the crime.

This was largely attributed to the accelerated level of technology adoption in the country in recent years, especially in the area of mobile phone use.

The survey showed theft or asset misappropriation as the most common type of crime reported by 73 percent of participants in Kenya.

Globally, Africa is seen as one of the main sources of cybercrime threats, with most perceived to have originated from either Nigeria or Kenya.

Accounting fraud followed asset misappropriation with 38 percent, though the survey showed a marked decrease in cases due to tighter controls and risk management measures taken by local organizations.

Bribery and corruption posted 23 percent while money laundering trailed with 13 percent of respondents reporting incidences.

Ninety-one organisations participated in the Kenya survey with 40 percent from the financial services sector, 22 percent from the public sector, and 13 percent from insurance.

Most incidences, the survey revealed, were committed by internal fraudsters, primarily junior staffers and middle managers, according to 68 percent of respondents.

However, two years ago two-thirds of economic crimes were carried out by junior staffers, whereas this year the survey showed a shift to more cases being committed by middle management.

Whitehead said organisations would have to turn more focus to the growing cybercime cases, as it is an area that is still unknown turf in the region despite the high uptake of technology.

“If I’m a fraudster I look for where I can get the easiest wins with the lowest risk of being caught. The whole area of cybercrime presents fantastic opportunities to make money so this is really fertile ground for economic crime. I think the risk is just going to increase,” he said.

Predictions by local organisations themselves were no more optimistic about their chances of being hit again, with six out of 10 expecting to be struck by at least one economic crime in the next 12 months.

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