Economic crimes are increasingly becoming a threat to businesses and organisations, with culprits most likely being mid-level managers.
According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Rwanda, the most prevalent economic crime in the country is asset misappropriation.
This involves theft of company assets.
Moses Nyabanda, the head of forensics at PWC Rwanda told, The New Times that the findings indicate that most often the fraudster is within the firm.
“[Up to] 64 per cent of economic crime in Rwanda is perpetrated by insiders. The fraudster is likely to be in our office as opposed to someone from outside,” he said.
“The fraudster is likely to be in mid-level management and a trusted person.” Nyabanda added.
The survey, that was also carried out in other countries, shows that in Rwanda, middle level management was indicated as the highest internal perpetrator, at 38 per cent, followed by junior and management, at 31 per cent.
Other economic crimes include fraud committed by consumers and business misconduct.
Fraud committed by consumers also features prominently in Rwanda with a 39 per cent incidence rate.
This type of fraud involves instances where consumers in the course of undertaking a transaction exploit the governance and control weaknesses of the organisations to commit scam.
The results of the survey showed that this form of economic crime had a 39 per cent incidence rate, making it the second-most prevalent form of economic crime both in Rwanda and globally.
The crime is most common within the local financial industry.
Firms operating in Rwanda also cited business misconduct as a common economic fraud which featured as the third most prevalent. This is deception of the market or general public by companies.
In Rwanda, respondents indicated that they suffered a 36 per cent incidence rate in business misconduct fraud.
In this category, Rwanda was ranked higher than its regional neighbours with East Africa’s average standing at 29 per cent.
“The relatively high incidence rate of business misconduct may be an indicator that regulatory bodies need to strengthen their detection and deterrence policies to help curb the vice.
“Public companies should be required to disclose the way they conduct business,” the report reads in part.
Other common cases of economic crimes in Rwanda involve bribery and corruption, accounting fraud, insider trading, procurement fraud, cybercrime and human resources related fraud.
“The fact that Rwanda has the lowest incidence rate of bribery and corruption in East Africa may be due to the stringent enforcement of the national anti-corruption policy and the implementation of the zero tolerance overall policy framework,” the report reads further.
Economic crimes and fraud were also found to cause losses amongst firms with 25 per cent of Rwanda’s respondents indicating that they suffered a direct loss of between $100,000 and $1 million to the most disruptive crime they experienced in the 24 months.
At least 43 per cent of the respondents admitted to losing at least $50,000 in the last two years preceding the study while 7 per cent said over $1 million had been lost.
The study also shows that firms should probably be cautious in their recruitment process as the main perpetrators of economic crimes are insiders.
Samuel Marete, a manager at PWC Rwanda, said that the crimes in the various firms are often detected through ways such as periodic internal reviews.
“The three main ways in which the crimes are discovered include periodic internal reviews, management reporting, whistle blowing and review by external consultants. Management’s vigilance is very important. How often are you doing reviews and what is the quality of the reviews? Audit processes are key, particularly in getting to know the gaps,” Marete explained.
Going forward, to reduce their vulnerabilities to economic crimes and consequent financial losses, firms were advised to take proactive measures such as increasing their awareness of the existence of the crimes as well as conduct reviews to identify gasps.
“There needs to be attention from the board level on the existence of economic crimes and build mechanisms to be on the lookout. Most organisations do not critically review the risks, economic crimes is not one of the things that come first on the radar of organisations. Are organisations aware of the risks? Do they understand the risk areas? Awareness is an important aspect,” Marete said.
Across the East African region, the order of prevalent crimes was somewhat similar.
However, Rwandan firms performed comparatively well compared to their peers in the East African region.
Rwanda’s economic crime rate of 47 per cent is well below the East African average of 64 per cent and below the global average of 49 cent.
The study involved respondents constituting board members and senior managers who are part of Executive Management, Finance, Audit, Risk Management and other core functions in large, medium and small organisations operating in Rwanda.