Corruption is prevalent in 35 per cent of companies in the Middle East, according to a new survey from PwC.
The rate is significantly higher than the global corruption level, which stands at 27 per cent.
“According to our 2014 findings only five per cent of frauds were detected by internal audit, with 22 per cent detected by tip-offs and 16 per cent now detected by chance indicating a widespread lack of effective fraud detection methods in the Middle East,” said John Wilkinson, PwC partner and leader of PwC’s Middle East Forensic Services team.
“We believe the shortfall in effective fraud prevention and detection leads to a substantial deficit in the knowledge of economic crimes actually being committed.”
Around 21 per cent of companies in the Middle East experienced incidents of economic crime overall, down seven per cent from 2011.
The direct financial impact of economic crime remains high, according to the survey.
Around 12 per cent of the respondents reported a loss of $5 million over the past two years, out of which half incurred a loss of $100 million.
“Economic crime in the region still continues to be a significant threat, affecting large and small organisations,” said Wilkinson.
“Every industry or company in the region is susceptible to the impact of fraud. Looking forward, CEOs and executive management tell us that they are significantly concerned about the risks of cybercrime and that bribery and corruption remains a pervasive threat.”
The most common type of economic crime reported in the Middle East was asset misappropriation, with 71 per cent of respondentsreporting some form of this fraud. Around 37 per cent of those polled said that they experienced cybercrime.
“We are seeing increasing awareness within boards of directors and audit committees about their responsibility to deal with the issues of bribery and corruption including, among other things, launching objective and independent investigations as required,” said Tareq Haddad, PwC partner and Middle East Investigations leader.
“In our opinion, boards of directors and audit committees are exposed to various risks if they do not show enough ownership in dealing with the issues arising out of incidents of economic crime.”