Data from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) obtained via the association's global fraud survey, indicates cases of C-suite fraud accounted for 19 per cent of all cases, with a median loss of $500,000 per instance.
Roger Darvall-Stevens, national head of fraud and forensic services, RSM Bird Cameron, noted that although a majority of business leaders maintain high levels of ethics and integrity, the regularity with which C-suite fraud occurs cannot be ignored.
“There is a dirty little fraud secret that is rarely the subject of public or private discussion: fraud committed by the C-suite. This applies to a small percentage of the total C-suite but happens in patterns regular enough to cause concern,” he said.
Mr Darvall-Stevens made particular note of key “red flags for fraud”, including living beyond means, control issues, unusually close associations with vendors or customers, and financial difficulties.
“There are checks and balances that can be put in place to mitigate the risk of C-suite fraud and give confidence to businesses, boards, audit committees and other stakeholders. The key is to develop tailored forensic or fraud detection procedures, or a forensic review, focused on the C-suite”, he said.
RSM Bird Cameron has put forward the following suggestions for organisations to help them mitigate risk:
“1. Interview the C-suite executive to understand fraud and corruption control awareness, as well as family and individual profile for vulnerabilities.
2. Conduct forensic due diligence background checks on the C-suite executive and family that are publicly available. For example, ASIC checks for director, secretary and shareholders' roles or, with consent where required (e.g. police checks), to manage any perceived or actual conflicts of interest.
3. Understand the systems-access profile of the C-suite executive, such as transactions and approvals, and perform forensic analytics on data, including personal expenses.
4. Perform forensic IT analysis as required, including internet history and email reviews.”