Staple launches panel to counter threat of corporate fraud

Business failures are currently running at an all-time low. But if, as expected, economic growth levels off there could be a swift increase in corporate fraud, business was warned yesterday. Roger Trapp reports on a fresh attempt to combat a perennial problem.

The warning came from George Staple, former head of the Serious Fraud Office, at the official launch of a body designed to tackle the problem by drawing on expertise in a variety of sectors. The Fraud Advisory Panel has been established under the auspices of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, but is being supported by several public- sector organisations, including the Customs & Excise, the Department of Social Security, the National Audit Office and the City of London and Metropolitan police forces.

Ian McCartney, a minister at the Department of Trade and Industry, welcomed the move, saying he hoped it would play an "important part in developing greater awareness of business fraud and the means of combating it".

The initiative was introduced by Gerry Acher, head of audit at accountants KPMG and chairman of the institute's audit faculty. He likened the move to the institute's prime role in setting up the Cadbury Committee on corporate governance in the wake of the spate of business failures that followed the late 1980s boom.

Many of these collapses, such as Polly Peck, Barlow Clowes and Bank of Credit and Commerce International, were followed by high-profile fraud trials. And Mr Staple and Mr Acher believe that experience suggests that if the current buoyant economic conditions are followed by another recession a similar pattern could follow - unless there is a change in the business culture.

The panel, which has already sat twice, has established three working parties charged with meeting the prime objective of achieving that change by reducing the incidence and impact of business fraud. The first, to be chaired by Anthony Bingham, a partner at accountants Coopers & Lybrand and a member of the audit faculty, will gather information on fraud with the aim of creating a much more detailed picture of the problem. The second, headed by Mike Hoare, a former Metropolitan Police officer who is chairman of the Risk & Security management Forum, will investigate methods of prevention, provide advice in this area and make people more aware of the problem. The third, under Howard Page QC, will look at the effectiveness of existing methods of investigation and prosecution and seek to improve the speed of conviction.

This last area is of particular interest to Mr Staple who, since his return to the leading law firm Clifford Chance following his term at the SFO, has spoken of the need for a general offence of fraud if white- collar criminals are going to be caught and deterred. At present, prosecutors have to rely on alleged offences falling within the Theft Act, which can make trials extremely complex and convictions hard to secure.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?