Economic crime in Mideast still tough to tackle: PwC

Business Reporter –

PwC Middle East’s Forensics Services team hosted a conference on Global Trends in Investigations and Enforcement at the InterContinental Hotel Dubai, in collaboration with the UAE’s chapter of the Internal Audit Association (IIA) last month. PwC’s Global Forensics leaders in attendance shared their experience on international trends in economic crime and discussed the importance of how new technologies can help protect and mitigate risks for businesses.
Samia al Yousuf, UAE IIA General Manager opened the event and welcomed Achraf el Zaim, Forensic Services Partner for PwC Middle East who discussed the impact of globalisation on today’s economy and the latest Middle East statistics reported in PwC’s Global Economic Crime Survey.
Nick Robinson, PwC Middle East Partner and Forensic Services Leader said, “Economic crime continues to adversely affect organisations across the region, as awareness grows organisations will be judged on how they react and respond to instances.”
Abdul Qader Obeid Ali, Chairman of the UAE IIA stated: “We are all aware that economic crime is not just a global problem but also a major issue that we are facing in the Middle East. We are all requested to engage in the efforts to mitigate economic crime as well as investigate it.”
Nick Robinson and Abdul Qader Obeid Ali co-chaired the panel discussions which outlined how organisations protect their reputation in a global environment and the importance in cross-border investigations and enforcement.
During the conference, a PwC live polling session on economic crime’s impact on organisations surveyed 150 participants. Survey results showed that despite the Middle East’s efforts to combat economic crime, there has been no clear indication that levels in the Middle East or globally have decreased. Economic crime remains as tough to tackle as it’s ever been.
Although 65 per cent of the survey’s respondents cited “opportunity” as the biggest factor driving crimes committed by employees (74 per cent of all economic crimes reported in the last two years were committed by staff), 40 per cent of respondents indicated that their organisations have never performed a fraud risk assessment. Furthermore, the four most commonly reported types of economic crime are “asset misappropriation” (49 per cent), “procurement fraud” (16 per cent), “bribery and corruption” (15 per cent) and “cybercrime” (12 per cent). Finally, although 72 per cent of respondents indicated that their perception of the risk of cybercrime in their organisation has increased over the last 24 months, 44 per cent reported that their organisation restructured or reorganised departments responsible for governance and compliance as a measure implemented in the last 24 months to address increased regulatory expectations.
Further interesting findings from the survey are around the most likely characteristics of an internal fraudster, incident response plans to deal with cyber-attacks and the most significant challenges with response to AML/CFT systems.