PwC Kenya recently released the PwC Economic Crime and Fraud Survey report – Eastern Africa. The survey undertaken in 2022. It covers six Eastern African countries – on the backdrop of the PwC Global Economic Crime and Fraud survey (GECS) 2022. The report themed ‘Protecting the Perimeter: The rise of external fraud’ shares insights on the areas impacting organisations in the region in terms of both risk and their responses to economic crime and fraud. The areas covered include the effectiveness of fraud prevention methods, supply chain fraud in an evolving world, corruption and accountability, ESG fraud as well as cybersecurity risks and their exposure.
The 2022 GECS survey introduced several economic crime categories that correspond to global developments that were not covered by previous issues. These include : supply chain fraud, disinformation and misinformation fraud, ESG reporting fraud and government relief fraud among others. This report dedicates several sections to covering some of these new economic crimes as well as some new developments in relation to the traditional economic crimes such as asset misappropriation, money laundering and cybercrime. Muniu Thoithi, PwC’s deals and consulting leader, Eastern Africa said : “Today’s fraud landscape is more complex than ever, presenting continually evolving challenges for organisations to contend with. Our 2022 survey results provide first-hand insights from those confronting these challenges in the region, highlighting new and emerging areas of risk that require attention to protect against economic crime.”
The level of fraud experienced within organisations is notably high. 63% of Eastern African respondents have experienced fraud within their organisation in the last two years against 46% of respondents globally. Respondents in the Eastern Africa region reported higher incidence rates for more prevalent crimes such as customer fraud, asset misappropriation, procurement fraud, bribery and corruption as well as supply chain fraud. For less prevalent crimes such as human resources fraud, tax fraud, government relief fraud and ESG reporting fraud, respondents in Eastern Africa generally reported a lower incidence rate than their global counterparts.
Looking back at the results of GECS for the last ten years provides an interesting insight into the movement and evolution of economic crime over the years in Eastern Africa. The incidence rate for cybercrime has not changed significantly over the last ten years, whereas the disruption resulting from these types of fraud has escalated dramatically. Between 2018 and 2022, reported cybercrime incidence has reduced by 4% despite the number of respondents having reported it as the most disruptive economic crime almost doubling. This might suggest that cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated and perpetrating fewer but more lucrative cyber-attacks.
John Kamau, forensic leader, PwC Kenya further said : “When it comes to actual experiences of fraud and corruption, we continue to see a widening gap between respondents from Eastern Africa and the rest of the world. We trust that our in-depth analysis of the survey results, which is informed by our experience of working with clients in both fraud and corruption prevention and response, will provide value to local organisations when it comes to managing their fraud and corruption risks.”
A significant 70% of global respondents experienced new types of economic crime which can be attributed to Covid-19. The new types of crime experienced are largely related to cybercrime and conduct risk. Conduct risk stems from individual actions and includes customer fraud and supply chain fraud among others. In Eastern Africa, only 30% of respondents indicated that they had suffered new forms of economic crime attributable to the Covid-19 pandemic. These reports appear congruent with the World Health Organization (WHO) global Covid-19 prevalence reports, where Africa is reported to have experienced far less infection incidents than the rest of the world, which would ostensibly translate to less business disruption.
Fraud and corruption risk evolves with the evolution of the business environment, in response to emerging areas such as the current focus on ESG and increased digitisation of supply chains, and in reaction to internal control measures. As such, continuous risk management is important to mitigate emergence of new types of economic crimes or evolution of existing typologies. Maintaining robust oversight with the flexibility to shift focus as needed when new risks emerge is critical in protecting your perimeter.