Accountants push for fraud review

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The Independent Online
The Government is being urged to set up an independent advisory panel and carry out a review of the law with the aim of simplifying prosecutions as part of a concerted campaign against fraud, which is estimated to cost British industry up to pounds 10bn a year, writes Roger Trapp.

"Fighting fraud should come high on the agenda of government, the criminal justice system, business and the relevant professions," according to a paper published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants yesterday.

While pointing out that it would be wrong to suggest that the country is indifferent to the problem, it adds that "few involved in combatting it believe there is sufficient appreciation of the danger it presents. If leaders in and out of Parliament were more aware of the full havoc fraud can cause, they would surely seek to actively manage and reduce this key area of risk."

In an attempt to draw together all those involved in the fight against the problem, the institute is following up the publication of the booklet, Taking Fraud Seriously with a conference today.

The conference will be attended by more than 100 delegates, including heads of fraud squads from all over the country, MPs, lawyers, accountants, academics and business representatives. It is hoped that this will provide a forum for discussing the issue and co-ordinating responses to it.

Among the other recommendations put forward in the booklet - designed as a discussion paper and written by Tony Bingham of Coopers & Lybrand, Ian Huntington of KPMG and Martyn Jones of Touche Ross - are the creation of a legal duty for regulators to report suspected fraud to auditors, re-examination of the detection role of the statutory auditor in relation to corporate fraud and a code of business practice for dealing with the problem.