Fraud busters rub their hands as credit crunch smokes out bandits

Bank of England

Bank of England predictions could herald an insolvency bonanza

While most of us will be worrying about the rate of inflation, falling house
prices and the looming prospect of stagflation, one group of corporate advisers
should be rubbing their hands with glee.

As the downturn bites and company chiefs begin to pay much more attention to
the accounts, that’s when the scams, cons and ‘company perks’ come into focus.
Who you gonna call? Yes, the fraud busters. Or the forensics experts or, if
things get really bad, the insolvency practitioners.

This week claims surfaced that the business world was about to see a
significant rise in corporate investigations as a result of the credit crunch.

Observers noted that as the ‘boom time’ fades, cases that would otherwise
have ducked below the radar will come starkly into view.

According to Keith Williamson, a director at Alix Partners, there will be a
special focus on overseas operations and that companies will need to take
proactive steps to avoid fraud and bribery.

Wise words and they should be manna from heaven for fraud and forensics
specialists looking to build their practices.

Indeed, the latest figures from BDO Stoy Hayward’s FraudTrack study claims
that reported fraud has risen to a value of £705, for the first six months of
this year, up a huge 74% on the same period last year.

Simon Bevan, head of fraud investigation at BDO, said: ‘We are seeing a
dramatic increase in banks, corporates and public sector organisations
contacting us directly about our fraud investigation and prevention services and
we expect this to rocket further still. Interest is coming from Board level as
senior executives at British businesses are becoming increasingly concerned
about fraud risk as the credit crunch bites.’

While you might expect to see insolvency business improve, as an indication
that these assumptions are being borne out, it seems this is not happening.
While credit insurers are seeing claims rise and an increase in debt collection
work, Martin Williams, managing director at credit agency Graydon, says the
expected ‘increase in liquidation figures are conspicuous by their absence so
far’. Indeed, he hears from insolvency practitioners that the predicted uplift
in work hasn’t happened yet.

This might be a concern for some insolvency practices that have recently made
acquisitions to beef up their insolvency offering.

However, there is still the rest of the year and if Bank of England warnings
are anything to go by, the downturn could end up yielding an insolvency bonanza

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