Nearly half of Kenyan companies at risk of losing money in fraud cases

Nearly half of Kenyan companies at risk of losing money in fraud cases

Nearly half of the Kenyan companies are at risk of losing money in fraud and corruption incidents, which has spurred the growth of private investigators hired to investigate economic crimes.

The report shows that a majority of the firms that caught the culprits relied on internal investigations or hired specialist sleuths to investigate their organisations.

Private investigators are being hired to do background checks on businesses before investing in investment and probing their organisations for corruption and fraud, attracting individual outfits and big audit and advisory companies to offer the services.

According to the PwC report, 78 percent of Kenyan respondents reported having suffered an economic crime conducted an investigation.

Foreign and local investors are turning to private sleuths for business intelligence, risk compliance, background screening, checks, and due diligence to avoid losing money in foiled investments.

The investigators claim they can help track improper payments, analyze data and carry out forensics to uncover anomalies and give actionable intelligence on newly acquired businesses or joint venture partners.

The trend follows many investors losing huge amounts of money when they invest in businesses that collapse soon after they are bought or are fraught with uninvestigated fraud.

The investigators have become hot cakes for investors targeting private businesses that have no disclosures or audits making it hard to get the real picture of the company's operations at face value.

The demand for private investigators has seen top business advisory firms set up investigations units including Ernst and Young, PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Deloitte and Touche, and KPMG.

EY teams of investigators, forensic accountants, compliance specialists and technology professionals can help companies respond quickly to instances of alleged fraud, bribery and other misconduct, as well as provide support throughout any subsequent regulatory, civil or criminal proceedings, according to the company's website.

PwC claims to have a regional team of specialists that have conducted some of the most complex and high-profile investigations in Kenya and regionally in recent years.

Many investors have lost money because of insufficient due diligence on business acquisitions.

Other companies have suffered losses to internal parties who have been reported to have been the most common perpetrators of economic crime in Kenya, unlike globally where the incidents of external perpetrators were higher.

The highest amount of fraud committed by operations staff was the 53 per cent fraud attributed to internal actors.