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23 September 2013

Lack of due diligence in emerging markets putting firms at risk of fraud

Content team

Companies that do not perform adequate due diligence when conducting operations in emerging markets are leaving themselves at higher risk of falling victim to fraud, a new survey has found.

The latest Intelligence Benchmarker, conducted by Legal Week in partnership with Kroll, found that many companies may be under threat because they do not consider the unique conditions and market situation for every nation in which they invest.

While 44 per cent of respondents stated they customise their due diligence activities on a country-by-country basis, to ensure they are compliant with local anti-corruption and bribery legislation, a third of firms use a standardised process for all global territories. A further 21 per cent stated they have 'heightened processes' in place for emerging markets.

Managing director at Kroll Zoe Newman stated: "A lot of corporates do a 'box ticking' exercise on public records. But in emerging markets, public records can be inherently unreliable and what is in the media can be what people have paid to put there."

The survey also revealed there is a lack of awareness among firm about their own activities, with a quarter of businesses saying they did not know whether their firm had ever been a victim of fraud.

This is an area that demands closer attention, particularly for firms that have valuable assets. The survey found that the most common type of fraud encountered when dealing with emerging markets is the theft of intellectual property. 29 per cent of companies responding to the survey stated they had experienced this.

Meanwhile, links with external advisers was another area that the Legal Week and Kroll study found companies should be paying closer attention to than they are at present. In particular, businesses need to ensure the IT and cyber security precautions they have in place to protect against fraud are extended to these personnel.

"You may have great corporate security but have to use local attorneys, accountants and others so they are targeted for the information they hold on you," said EJ Hilbert, head of security for EMEA at Kroll. He noted that there has been a "dramatic uptick" in cyber attacks targeting these professionals as they are seen as middlemen.

Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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