SA's economic crime highest in the world - PwC

Johannesburg - Economic crime is a scourge in South Africa, PwC’s latest survey on global economic crime has shown.

South African organisations continue to report the highest instances of economic crime in the world with economic crime reaching its highest level over the past decade, according to the firm’s biennial Global Economic Crime Survey released on Tuesday.

“Once again South Africa has the dubious honour of having the highest levels in the world,” said Trevor White, PwC South Africa Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey Leader.

A staggering 77% of South African organisations have experienced economic crime, followed in second place by Kenya with 75%, and thirdly France with 71%. Russia was listed as fourth. 

Half of the top ten countries who reported economic crime are from Africa.

But the global results were equally dismal, White said, revealing the highest level of reported fraud and economic crime since the survey was launched in 2001.

“We believe that these jumps in reported crime are being driven by a heightened state of fraud awareness by respondents, and in this lies the silver lining,” he said.

Interestingly enough South Africa’s awareness of economic crime was higher than the global average, with 70% of South African respondents indicating high or extensive knowledge. The global response was 60%.

White believed that this showed that while South Africa emerged with the highest reported rate of economic crime, it is apparent that South Africans have a greater level of awareness of the issues and challenges we face  in comparison to the rest of the world.

The survey painted a picture of how dire the circumstances are in South Africa.

South Africa’s rate of reported crime at 77% remains significantly higher than the global average rate of 49%.

The report also stated that asset misappropriation continues to remain the most prevalent form of economic crime reported by 45% of respondents globally and 49% of South African respondents.

One of the new categories of economic rimes was that of “fraud committed by the consumer”. It was the second most reported crime in South Africa at 42% and takes third place globally at 29%.

Also 35% of the 282 South African respondents lost more than R1.2m ($100 000) to economic crime. Another 1% reported losses of greater than R1.2bn ($100m).

More than a quarter of South African respondents (26%) believe that cybercrime will be the most disruptive economic crime to affect their organisations over the next 24 months. 

At the same time South African companies continued to invest in fighting crime, with 44% of respondents saying they have increased their spend on combating fraud since 2016 and 46% plan to increase their spend over the next 24 months. 

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