CORPORATE fraud in Yorkshire has fallen – against the upwards national trend.
Figures from business advice firm BDO showed that UK fraud soared to £1.06bn during the first six months of this year – eclipsing the previous half year figures and almost the same as for the whole of 2008.
However, Yorkshire reported a near-95% decline to just under £15m against last year’s record figure of £280m.
The region is fifth in the national league table of corporate fraud, behind London and the south-east, Wales, the north-west and the Midlands.
Nationally, this is the first time fraud levels have soared above the billion pound barrier during the interim period in the seven years BDO has been conducting its survey.
The average value of a single fraud has also increased to almost £6m from £5m last year – showing that fraud in the UK is still big business.
BDO’s latest half-yearly Fraudtrack analysis shows that nationally, fraud is “undoubtedly on the increase” with predictions that 2010 will be “another bumper year”.
In particular, BDO expects more enforcement action by regulators in the financial services sector – with enforcement action for insider dealing also becoming more prevalent.
Simon Bevan, head of the fraud services unit at BDO, said: “In the past, we have seen a focus on procurement type frauds – UK public and private sector organisations paying too much for goods and services.
“However, as the recession continues we are starting to see the other side of the fraud equation, namely revenue dilution fraud.
“We are seeing companies where management commit fraud by either setting up ‘companies within companies’ or diverting lucrative contracts away from the company to third party accomplices.”
Said Mr Bevan: “Linked to this unethical activity is an increase in insider dealing where management don’t directly defraud their own employer but their actions leave them open to stringent, and often public, enforcement action by financial regulators.
“The Financial Services Authority has been cracking down on insider dealing this year with a number of individuals receiving criminal convictions and/or confiscation orders.”
Mr Bevan said competition between regulators to “act tough” would lead to regulators following an American model of intrusive regulation.
“We have a combination of political pressure and the understandable desire – in a downturn – for the public sector and corporates to be seen to have a zero tolerance policy,” he said.
“Increasingly law firms are now starting to recruit experts in market abuse. This is especially telling when in nearly all other areas major law firms are curtailing recruitment.”