Firms ''more fearful'' of fraud penalties

21 October 2009

22 October 2009 | Jake Kanter

Companies are increasingly nervous about the consequences of getting caught giving or receiving bribes, according to a risk consultancy chief.

Brendan Hawthorne, managing director of financial investigations at Kroll, said greater political will to crack down on corruption has made firms less complacent.

Hawthorne highlighted the work of the US's National Procurement Fraud Task Force, created by the Department of Justice three years ago. He also pointed to more recent developments in the UK, for instance the Serious Fraud Office's intention to prosecute BAE Systems on charges of overseas corruption, as well as the UK Bribery Bill, set to become law next year.

Last month British engineering company Mabey & Johnson was fined £3.5 million after pleading guilty to overseas bribery. It was the first UK business to be prosecuted for fraud abroad (Web news, 28 September).

There is growing concern, he said, that other firms will be landed with heavy fines and many are just "embarking on a journey" to stamp out bad practice. Companies are bringing clarity to guidelines on pursuing contracts in an ethical manner, he added.

Hawthorne was speaking to SM this week following the publication of Kroll's latest Global Fraud Report. The survey of 729 global business executives showed companies lost an average of $8.8 million (£5.3 million) as a result of corruption this year, compared with $8.2 million (£4.9 million) in 2008.

SMoct2009

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