Corporate India ups IT investment to tackle internal fraud, reveals survey

A survey by Deloitte India said almost 58 per cent of respondents polled in the survey believe that corporate fraud will increase in the future but, appeared optimistic about their organisations’ abilities to manage fraud.

Corporate India has come of age now when it relates to adopting technology to tackle fraud. The companies surveyed, recently by Deloitte India, showed far more optimism than they had in earlier surveys carried out in 2016 and 2014.
 
As per survey, there were rising optimism among companies on tackling fraud, with recent regulatory action and successful technology investments by organisations. Bribery and corruption is slipping down the list of frauds experienced by companies. Around 47 per cent of respondents believe that anti-fraud legislations have been successful in curbing incidents of fraud, misconduct, and non-compliance.
 
Deloitte said almost 58 per cent of respondents polled in the survey believe that corporate fraud will increase in the future but, appeared optimistic about their organisations’ abilities to manage fraud. Interestingly, this is a sharp decline from the previous editions of the survey (conducted in 2014 and 2016) where around 70 per cent of respondents felt corporate fraud was likely to prevail over the coming years.
 
Commenting on the survey, Nikhil Bedi, Partner and Leader – Forensic, Financial Advisory Services, Deloitte India, observed, “There is greater sensitivity to the reputational damage that corporate fraud, misconduct and noncompliance can cause, thanks to actions taken by regulatory bodies (in India and overseas) in the recent past – whether by introducing new anti-fraud and related legislation or through stronger enforcement action on existing provisions. Organisations are recognising that fraud is a result of internal systemic loopholes that can be plugged by stronger controls and limited overrides, and are making investments in these areas.”
 
The top three reasons for fraud were identified as lack of an efficient internal control/compliance system, diminishing ethical values, and senior management override of controls. Among the respondents who indicated having experienced fraud previously, said that the most common fraud and misconduct schemes included vendor/customer/business partner favoritism, inventory pilferage and diversion / theft of funds. 
 
However, only 17 per cent of respondents indicated that their organisation had experienced bribery and corruption in the recent past. This may be a result of better internal controls instituted to prevent bribery, as well as measures taken by the government in recent times to limit avenues for bribery. About 49% of respondents indicated losing more than Rs 10 Lakh in fraud losses in the recent past.
 
Surprisingly, junior and middle management employees were identified as being most likely to commit fraud. About 64 per cent of respondents, however, believe that suspicious behaviours in employees could be identified early on and dealt with appropriately to prevent fraud.
 
Additionally, around 87 per cent of respondents indicated that fostering an ethical mindset among employees could prevent fraud in the long term. (I am not sure if this sentence is making any value addition to the release)
 
Technology as a fraud control tool
 
The survey identified technology being increasingly employed as a fraud control tool in organisations. The most commonly used techniques and tools to prevent fraud were identified as reliance on control based reports generated by the ERP system (54 per cent), a risk based approach for analytics (44 per cent), and traditional statistical analysis and data mining tools (41 per cent). 
 
A fourth of the respondents also indicated that they had implemented or were implementing next generation tools and techniques such as voice search and analysis, link analysis, social network analysis, sentiment analysis, data visualisation, interactive dashboards, machine learning, robotic process automation and artificial intelligence.
 
“Undoubtedly technology is helping organisations better manage the risk of fraud. Bolstered by the successful outcomes seen over the last two years, organisations are now investing in the next level of anti-fraud technologies that rely on machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation platforms,” added Bedi.
 
The survey further revealed that fraud was detected primarily through whistleblower hotlines. About 59 per cent of respondents indicated that fraud related observations were addressed immediately, by way of commencing investigations – internally or assisted by third parties. About 49 per cent of respondents pointed out that once the fraud was ascertained, the fraudster was allowed to resign in lieu of filing a legal case in the majority of cases while a third of respondents indicated that they took legal action against the fraudster.

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