27/02/2018 15:36 SAST | Updated 27/02/2018 15:36 SAST

South Africa Tops International Economic Crime List

PwC survey indicates that 77 percent of South Africa organisations have at some point experienced economic crime.

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South African organisations are currently reporting the highest instances of economic crime in the world, according to auditing firm Price Waterhouse Cooper's (PwC) biennial Global Economic Crime Survey released on Tuesday.

According to the report, a staggering 77 percent of the responding companies in South Africa had been victims of economic crime, a number that has been growing steadily over the past 10 years. South Africa is followed in the survey by Kenya, then France.

"Economic crime continues to disrupt business, with this year's results showing a steep incline in reported instances of economic crime," said PwC partner Trevor White.

The survey examined more than 7,200 respondents from 123 countries, of which 282 were from South Africa.

White says organisations are beginning to "shed their denial complex regarding the many blind spots they have in identifying fraud and are learning how to address them".

"We believe that these jumps in reported crime are being driven by a heightened state of fraud awareness by respondents, and in this lies the silver lining," he elaborated.

"This indicates that the entire supply chain in South Africa is fraught with criminality."

White says the introduction of more sophisticated technology is important in the fight against fraud – however, focusing on improving employees' behaviour is also a step in the right direction.

"Focusing on human behaviour offers the best opportunity for reducing or preventing fraud, because ultimately, machines don't commit fraud, people do – they just happen to be using technology more and more in these endeavours."

Asset misappropriation continues to remain the most prevalent form of economic crime reported. Other common types of popular economic crime include "cybercrime", followed by a new category known as "fraud committed by the consumer", and "procurement fraud".

"This indicates that the entire supply chain in South Africa is fraught with criminality. When combined with the high instances of bribery and corruption reported, the resultant erosion in value from the country's gross domestic product (GDP) is startling," the survey said.