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Economic crimes in organisations continue to pose a threat in Singapore, potentially hurting the nation’s credibility as a safe place to run businesses.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey found 24% of Singaporean businesses had encountered economic crimes within the last two years.

According to the report, the most common type of economic crime was asset misappropriation, with 80% of Singaporean respondents citing it as their principal threat. This was followed by bribery and corruption and cybercrime, both at 15%.

“Although Singapore respondents also reported fewer cyber incidents compared to global respondents (15% and 24% respectively), the risk of cybercrime occurring in Singapore is clear and present,” the report said.

Other reported crimes included human resources fraud, money laundering, intellectual property or data theft, mortgage fraud and tax fraud.

“No organisation of any size anywhere in the world is immune to the impact of fraud and economic crime,” Chan Kheng Tek, forensics leader at PwC Singapore, said.

“This includes companies based in Singapore, which we rightly think of as being a very transparent, safe place to do business. Those committing economic crime succeed by adapting to shifting global conditions like reliance on technology and the expansion into emerging economies.”

Bribery and corruption was also found to be of particular relevance to Singapore based companies. Seven out of 10 Singapore respondents reported operations in territories with high corruption risks, as compared to 50% of their global peers.

Malaysia was also found to be at risk for economic crime, with 24% of the country’s businesses reporting fraud in 2014. However, this has decreased from 44% in 2011.

“Low reports of fraud can reflect a number of things: respondents reluctant to report fraud, low levels of asset misappropriation (the most common fraud), or a lack of controls which can help detect fraud,” the report said.

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