Stressed staff rat on bosses

2008-07-04 00:00

Times are tough and crime in the workplace has shot up — but, rather than resorting to pinching pencils, more and more employees are actually reporting dishonest bosses just to keep their jobs.

According to Nicholas John, chief operating officer of Deloitte Tip-offs Anonymous, their statistics indicate that commercial crime increased by nearly 200% between January to June 2007 and January to June 2008. This is in keeping with the national crime statistics released this week, which indicated a 180% increase in commercial crime and a growth from 61 690 to 65 286 cases in the year to March 2008.

It is believed that up to a third of all business failures are influenced by fraud or white collar crime.

John said a disturbing trend is an increase in the number of crimes committed by senior employees.

"Managers are the gatekeepers. Therefore, gaining personally from transactions that never end up in the company’s records is common, especially if a manager has the authority and ability to override the company’s controls."

John said people across the board are "living on the edge" as evidenced by sudden leaps in commercial crime reports every time interest rates go up. Usually, there is a three-month delay between an interest rate hike and a crime hike. Now, interest rate and crime increases are flowing into one another and commercial crime is on a steady, sharp increase.

According to Deloitte’s figures, the majority of reports still involve junior staff.

However, there has been a far larger than normal increase in the number of managers under investigation. Managers do the most damage because they "go for the big carrots".

Via Tip-offs Anonymous, Deloitte’s receives between 10 000 and 12 000 calls per month nationally.

Santhos Manilall, senior manager: forensic and dispute services at Deloitte’s, said that up to 90% of all investigations are carried forward to internal disciplinary or criminal action or both. He said that even at the most senior levels, most commercial crimes are opportunistic — top executives see an opportunity and take it rather than pre-planning their moves.

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