28 Mar 2011

Vigilance 'behind record fraud level'

7:28 pm on 28 March 2011

Accounting firm KPMG says increased vigilance from business managers is partly behind figures showing fraud prosecutions reached a record $100 million in the second half of 2010.

The KPMG Fraud Barometer identified 30 high-value fraud cases in the six months to December, a 30% increase on the first half of 2010.

The most common offence was accounting fraud, with men and managers most likely to be the perpetrators.

A partner at KPMG, Stephen Bell, says the Serious Fraud Office has launched more prosecutions against large frauds.

These include the Nicholas Kirk case involving Five Star Finance and also the case involving Mike and Jackie Bradley case.

Mr Bell says managers are also watching profit margins more closely in the global financial downturn and are more likely to know when something is wrong.

Mr Bell says new legislation will hopefully regulate the investment advisory industry and increase investor confidence.

Serious Fraud Office chief executive Adam Feeley says financial crises tend to reveal fraud and the office investigated more than $1 billion of losses connected with the crime.

Mr Feeley says fraud is difficult to detect when property prices are going up and the economy is booming. But when there is a squeeze on cash, it is not unusual to start to unravel fraud.

Mr Feeley says fraud has primarily been dealt with by imprisonment or more recently by confiscation of the fraudster's assets.

Other sanctions are used overseas, such as serious crime prevention orders and financial reporting orders in Britain, he says.