Accountancy firms sharpen up sleuthing skills in major fraud crackdown

The CBI, London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the City of London PoliceServices and the Big Five accountancy firms have developed a pilot scheme whichaims to tackle company fraud in London.

As part of the initiative firms including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and Ernst & Young will work closely with police fraudinvestigators and other approved investigators by providing in-house expertise,knowledge and resources.

Sir Clive Thompson, CBI president said: ‘Sixty per cent of UK firms suffer fromfraud each year, so the cost to UK plc is enormous. Ignoring the risks is notan option.’ The CBI was instrumental in instigating the pilot scheme.

If the one-year trial scheme proves successful, it will be extended throughoutthe country next April.

Fraud, next to drug trafficking, is the UK’s biggest crime. According toan Association of British Insurers Report, fraud costs the UK about £12bn eachyear.

In a world where billions of pounds can be transferred without a trace at thetouch of a button, fraudsters have been able to outwit international police,governments and business with ever greater ease.

Bill Cleghorn, head of UK investigations at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said:’Fraudsters have recognised the potential of technology to refine their scams.Scanners, desk-top publishing and other technologies have all helped to aid thefree movement of criminals and their millions.’

PwC’s Cleghorn lauded the scheme, explaining that often corporations have notwanted to report cases of fraud for fear of damaging their reputation.

‘If prosecution of fraud is seen to be dealt with more effectively and criminalsare punished, then business will be more inclined to report cases.’

Speaking at the launch, Home Secretary Jack Straw said: ‘The joint initiativebetween business and the police is an excellent example of where a structuredpartnership approach can have benefits for all concerned.’

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