Organisations across Barbados could be losing tens of millions of dollars annually through fraudulent transactions.
This is the concern of experienced auditor and financial consultant, Andrew Brathwaite, who believes that under-reporting of fraud and corruption makes such crimes a challenge to control.
“Since fraud is so difficult to detect, because the perpetrator will attempt to conceal any evidence, it is generally assumed that most fraud goes undetected in Barbados. Once fraud is suspected or detected, companies affected may involve the police but the matter is often settled without going to court,” said Brathwaite, who is a Financial Crimes panellist in the 34th Annual Crime Stoppers International Conference slated for Barbados later this year.
Brathwaite linked his estimate of the millions lost to fraud in Barbados each year to the findings of the 2012 global survey executed by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, which estimated that a typical organization loses five per cent of its revenue to fraud each year.
“Fraud usually involves loss of cash or other assets so there is a direct cost to businesses. Other forms of corruption may result in lost business,” warned Brathwaite.
The immediate past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados also admitted that most occupational fraud is detected by tips, and not by control measures such as internal and external audit.
Brathwaite lamented that whistle blower schemes or other arrangements to facilitate tips are not common in the Caribbean and he praised the new Crime Stoppers Ethics Line for anonymous reporting of fraud and other financial crimes as “precisely the type of scheme that is needed”.
Crime Stoppers Barbados Executive Director Devrol Dupigny has reported that, along with the new Ethics Line, the organization is currently collaborating with law enforcement partners, regulatory and financial agencies such as INTERPOL, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, Deloitte and Scotiabank, to develop further measures to combat such ‘white collar crimes’.