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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Male bosses 'commit most fraud'
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Middle-aged male senior company executives who have been employed for a long time are the main perpetrators of fraud, a survey suggests.

The international KPMG Forensic study found that white-collar company fraudsters often commit more than 20 separate frauds before being caught.

Instances of fraud could go on for years. Typically, it takes between one and five years to detect a fraudster.

Finance departments are the most prone to fraud, the accountancy firm added.

Senior managers

Status in the company makes it easier for them to bypass internal controls and inflict greater damage on the company
Richard Powell, KPMG

While building up a profile of a typical fraudster, the accountancy firm looked at 360 company fraud cases across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In 60% of cases, senior managers were the perpetrators; of which the overwhelming majority were middle-aged and male.

The perpetrators seniority allowed them to commit multiple offences over a long period of time before detection.

Over half the fraudsters actually committed more than 20 separate offences.

"Status in the company makes it easier for them to bypass internal controls and inflict greater damage on the company," Richard Powell, partner at KPMG Forensic in the UK, said.

"Given the repeated and extended nature of most frauds, companies need to work extremely hard to detect frauds earlier, through tighter internal controls, data analytical tools, and more widely publicised fraud reporting mechanisms," Mr Powell added.

Interestingly, it was more often a colleague blowing the whistle on fraud which led to the criminal being detected, rather than the triggering of internal anti-fraud measures.

Overall, KPMG branded many internal controls within companies as "weak" and called for them to be improved.

As for the scale of losses, among the cases examined by KPMG, the average fraud was 1m euros ($1.4m; 680,000).

Often firms had little prospect of getting this money back and had to bear the loss themselves, the group added.

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