• Service: Advisory, Consulting, Forensic
  • Type: Press release
  • Date: 2/1/2013

Fraud: Executives cause greatest damage 

In Switzerland both the number of cases as well as the total loss incurred as a result of white-collar crimes dropped slightly in 2012 compared to the previous year. A strong increase was seen, however, in the total loss caused by management staff. Of the groups of victims documented, the greatest losses were sustained by investors and financial institutions. Those insights are revealed by this year’s Forensic Fraud Barometer by KPMG.
In 2012 Swiss courts closed a total of 64 cases of white-collar crime. Compared to the previous year (69 cases), this represents a decline of 7.3%. The total loss also dropped slightly to CHF 497.5 million, 4.3% lower than the year before. The average loss sustained, however, rose from CHF 7.5 million in 2011 to CHF 7.8 million in 2012. Most cases involved embezzlement (18 cases) and criminal mismanagement (11 cases). According to perpetrators’ statements, the criminally-obtained assets were most frequently used to finance their lifestyle (including the purchase of luxury goods) and to bridge financial gaps.


Increase in cases in Zurich

Most cases of white-collar crime were handled by courts in the canton of Zurich. The number of cases within the region rose from 23 in 2011 to 30 (+30.4%). In a regional comparison, this financial metropolis also ranks first when it comes to the total loss amount (CHF 178.7 million). The second-highest total loss (CHF 132.5 million) during 2012 was reported in Central Switzerland while Eastern Switzerland suffered the second-lowest loss amount despite a large number of cases.


Highest loss in Central Switzerland

While the region surrounding Lake Geneva suffered the highest average loss of the previous year, Central Switzerland was this year’s leader in the category. An average loss of CHF 33.1 million was incurred in the four cases reported from Central Switzerland. The conviction involving the highest loss was also reported from the same region. That incident concerned fraud and money laundering with a total loss of CHF 72.2 million. In light of the seriousness of his culpability, the cantonal court convicted the main defendant to nine years in prison and a fine of 90 daily rates.

Further increase in the number of criminal executives 

After 2011 saw five management-level employees convicted for white-collar crimes, this number rose to a total of 24 in 2012. That marks an increase over even the 2010 level (15 cases). The loss incurred in connection with cases closed in 2012 reached a total of CHF 273.0 million which also represents a massive increase over the previous year’s total of CHF 8.9 million. On the other hand, there was a significant 45% decline in the number of non-management staff convicted of white-collar crimes in 2012.


Professional fraudsters on the rise

Another increase was seen in the number of cases falling under the category of professional fraudsters. Compared to the previous year, this doubled from six to twelve. Across the country they caused losses worth a total of CHF 155.0 million, making that category the second-highest in terms of total loss. With regard to loss amount, however, they topped the statistics with the loss per case averaging CHF 17.2 million. Compared to the previous year this is equivalent to a 31% increase and exceeds even the average value of per-case-losses for the Management perpetrator group (CHF 11.3 million).


Investors hit hardest

Like the previous year, investors were once again the group of victims most frequently affected by white-collar crime. They represented the victims in 22% of all documented closed court proceedings and suffered an average loss of CHF 22.3 million. The second-most-frequent victims of white-collar crime were financial institutions. They accounted for a total of 11 cases with an average loss totaling CHF 6.4 million. The public authorities saw another considerable decline in the losses they sustained. With a total loss of CHF 3.4 million and an average loss amount of CHF 0.3 million, they represented the group of victims that incurred the least losses in 2012.


Not all cases go to court

Practice has shown that companies affected by white-collar crime do not by any means take all cases to court. As a result, KPMG assumes that the number of unreported cases is large and expects the total number of cases to continue to grow. This expectation is also based on the fact that white-collar crimes are usually only discovered after 2-3 years and the presumed clustering of cases stemming from the period of time during the financial and economic crisis.


White-collar crime by region/geographical distribution



White-collar crime broken down by perpetrator



White-collar crime broken down by victim




The KPMG Forensic Fraud Barometer is based on cases of white-collar crime that were closed by a Swiss criminal court during the year under review in which losses amounted to at least CHF 50,000 and which were reported in Switzerland’s main daily and weekly newspapers.


Andreas Hammer

Andreas Hammer

Director, Head of Corporate Communications

+41 58 249 55 71

Video interview

Anne van Heerden talks about the major findings of this year’s the Forensic Fraud Barometer.


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