• Type: Press release
  • Date: 3/12/2013

White-collar crime causes average losses of CHF 360,000 

White-collar crime causes significant losses at Swiss enterprises which amount to an average of around CHF 360,000 per case. While theft and embezzlement cause the greatest costs at Swiss SMEs, large corporations are hit heaviest by the theft and misuse of data, as revealed by an extensive study conducted by KPMG on the subject of white-collar crime in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
Over the past two years, 47% of large corporations and 13% of SMEs in Switzerland have fallen victim to white-collar crime. The losses sustained as a result of white-collar crimes amounted to an average total of around CHF 360,000 per case for the Swiss businesses affected. This insight was revealed by a broad-based, three-country study conducted by KPMG on the subject of white-collar crime in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. A special focus was placed on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A total of around 500 SMEs and 93 large corporations were surveyed.

High losses through theft and embezzlement

Across the three countries, theft and embezzlement are by far the most frequent types of crimes committed. A total of 246 cases were documented over the past two years.  In Switzerland, SMEs are affected on a particularly frequent basis: of the 138 cases reported here, 71 occurred in this business category. While SMEs are aware of the risks they face in connection with copyright violations and data theft, they severely underestimate the potential losses stemming from theft and embezzlement. The SMEs surveyed reported a total loss of some CHF 4.7 million over the past two years.


White-collar crime chart 1

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Large corporations underestimate corruption and money laundering

When it comes to the theft and misuse of data, large corporations are the hardest hit group in Switzerland. Corruption and money laundering were only uncovered in seven cases here and the risk of being affected by these types of crime is considered to be relatively low. The increased relevance due to cases entering the public domain as well as the resolute approach taken by international law-enforcement agencies indicate that this is a phenomenon which is detected rarely and also underestimated, particularly among international corporations.

The majority of perpetrators at SMEs come from outside the company

Including cases of collusion, the enterprise's own non-management staff (41%) as well as middle and senior management (13%) make up the most frequent groups of perpetrators in the study as a whole. The other 39% stem from outside the company. At a total of 21%, the share of perpetrators in middle and senior management is relatively high in Switzerland (DE 12%, AT 5%). Top management, on the other hand, was only rarely involved in the cases uncovered in this country. What stands out is that 56% of the crimes reported in Swiss SMEs were committed by perpetrators from outside the companies. Perpetrators from inside the companies generally came from middle to senior management. By way of comparison, non-management staff at SMEs was far less frequently involved in white-collar crimes.


White-collar crime chart 2

click on image to enlarge

Important tips from inside and outside the company

The majority of crimes were revealed through tip-offs received from people outside the company (17%) or in-house reports (19%). Tips from law-enforcement agencies led to detection in 10% of cases. Companies were only rarely made aware of criminal irregularities through reports in the media. There were no great deviations between the countries on this point.

White-collar crimes facilitated by the lack of a sense of wrongdoing

Financial pressure and the prospect of bonuses are two of the central motives behind white-collar crimes. This motive is more strongly reported in Switzerland (29%), where it exceeds the comparative values for Germany (11%) and Austria (25%). When asked why a white-collar crime might be committed, most companies unanimously named a lack of a sense of wrongdoing followed by a lack of checks and carelessness. Most cases are also punished under labor or civil law (60%), only a quarter are subject to criminal prosecution, which is a clear indication that a majority of cases never become public.

Can Arikan

Can Arikan

Head of Media Relations

+41 58 249 55 71

Economic Crime Study Switzerland, Germany, Austria

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This is an extensive study conducted by KPMG on economic crime in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
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