Growing awareness of economic crime a positive sign for Thailand

Information Technology Press Releases Thursday August 23, 2018 13:29
Bangkok--23 Aug--PwC Thailand
The survey found double of companies were affected by economic crime
Companies in Thailand are becoming increasingly aware of the prevalence and impact of fraud and other economic crimes, a new survey by PwC shows.

Almost half of all Thailand respondents to the PwC 2018 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey said they had been victims of fraud or other economic crimes over the last two years, up from just more than a quarter in the 2016 survey.

Vorapong Sutanont, PwC Thailand's forensics partner, said that rather than being alarming, the spike from 26% to 48% in the proportion of survey respondents saying they were affected by such crimes is a positive sign for the country.

"The numbers certainly stand out," Vorapong said.

"But a closer look at the survey results and my personal experience indicate that rather than fraud and other economic crime almost doubling, organisations are simply becoming more aware of the risk and better at detecting crimes when they happen. And that is a good thing."

The survey results, released in a report called Shining a light on fraud: Awareness is the first step towards fighting economic crime, highlights the crimes that are visible, but it also helps companies see the blind spots where fraud is hiding, and what they can and should do to protect themselves.

"Fraud and economic crime affects every country and sector and can come in many shapes and forms, all of which are by definition designed to evade detection. Fighting it is as much about what you don't see as it is about the crimes you know have affected your business. Simply acknowledging that fraudsters are out there, even if we can't see them, is the first step towards winning the war.

"The important question isn't: Are you a victim of fraud? The important questions are: Are you aware of how fraud is affecting your organisation? And are you fighting it blindfolded, or with your eyes open?," Vorapong said.

The survey showed that asset misappropriation was the most common economic crime in Thailand, affecting 62% of companies that responded, compared to 45% globally. Business misconduct (40%) affected more companies in Thailand than globally (28%), suggesting that internal fraud prevention policies have gaps, grey areas or loopholes that are being exploited.

Although cybercrime is a serious threat, just over one in five respondents (21%) said their company had been the victim of cybercrime in the last 24 months, with just over one in ten (11%) ranking it as the most serious in terms of its impact on their organisation. Despite these numbers, almost a third of respondents (32%) predicted that it would be the most serious crime over the next two years.

More than three-quarters (71%) of Thai respondents said that their companies put a medium or high level of effort into business processes to combat fraud and/ or economic crime internally, compared with 83% globally.

However, only 23% of respondents said that they put a high level of effort into improving the ethical standards of individual employees, compared to 34% globally. This is despite employees being responsible for 70% of the most serious economic crimes in terms of financial impact.

"Once companies get a handle on how exposed they are to fraud and other crimes, they need to invest in people, business processes and other tools to effectively minimise their exposure," Vorapong said.
"Responses to the survey show that some companies are doing so, although not nearly as many as what we would like."

Sira Intarakumthornchai, Chief Executive Officer for PwC Thailand, said the growing awareness identified in the survey shows Thai companies are aware of the effect economic crime can have on their ability to compete on the world stage, and on their ability to attract foreign investors.

"Being aware of and talking about economic crime is the first step for companies to take to protect themselves, and it's also critical for positioning Thailand as a good place to run a business from," Sira said.

"This survey shows that businesses are increasingly willing to talk about the subject. That is driven in part by changes to our business culture as Thailand increasingly embraces globalisation, openness and transparency.

"PwC intends to keep pushing that conversation as it's good for business, and it's good for the country."

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