Protecting your assets

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 May, 2009, 12:00am

Workplace fraud is on the rise, mainly due to the economic downturn. But organisations can combat this problem with anything from common sense to white-hot business intelligence tools.

Step one was to find honest employees, which meant vetting them, said Steve Vickers, FTI-International Risk's president and chief executive. Secondly, organisations require strong internal controls relevant to the business environment.

'For example, the Chinese use chops, but many western control systems imported from the United States or Britain don't understand their value,' he said. 'You can have an awesome control system in place, but someone will have the chops and can open and close bank accounts - and many foreign companies don't allow that.'

Strong and visible deterrents are important, as is clear management responsibility. Organisations undergoing change should make a senior player personally accountable for antifraud work - or when something goes wrong. Clear reporting lines pay dividends.

'Matrix management can contribute to fraud vulnerability,' Mr Vickers said. 'In China, people need a clear management chain so that they know who's the boss, who they apply to for what and who will give them a pay rise.'

The usefulness of business intelligence tools must not be underrated. Given that 90 per cent of the world's records are in an electronic medium, the ability to swiftly recover and analyse data is critical, which is where data forensics steps in.

Intelligence analysis software assists organisations operating between multiple countries. It uses data such as bank accounts or phone numbers to reveal associations on a chronological or links basis. Specialised business intelligence tools can also help specific industries such as retail, the sector hardest hit by workplace theft, said Roger Tsang, ADT Security Services general manager.

Options range from electronic article surveillance and shoplifting intelligence systems, to systems that control internal theft and random fraud or pinpoint employee theft. The result is improved loss reduction and better-performing stores, Mr Tsang said.