On the Web: Corporate Crime E-xposed

In the past couple of years the subject of corporate excess and fraud has been in the headlines almost more than the war on terrorism. The sensational collapse of first Enron and then WorldCom seemed to encapsulate the height of corporate greed and accounting malpractice in way never before seen. While internationally both corporate reporting and accounting standards have come under review, it is important to keep abreast of what’s happening in the shadowy world of corporate fraud. The following websites are resources for both following current media coverage of the issue, as well as to help protect your business from the devastating effects of fraudulent business activity.

corporatefraud.newstrove.com As the title suggests this is newstrove of stories relating to corporate fraud, and very effective job it makes of doing just that. The site provides comprehensive overview of stories from around the world relating to the subject. Stories are listed according to the date they were written as opposed to how relevant they are but the search mechanism is easily navigable and provides brief synopsis for quick preview of each piece to check for relevance. There is also links page to other stories relating to corporate fraud although this did not appear to be particularly useful list, and there is list of books available on the subject. comprehensive archive is provided and articles can be obtained at no cost which is an advantage over most newspaper archives that are available on the web. The only negative I could see is that not all the articles are particularly pertinent to the subject and the stories that appeared in more than one publication are often repeated.

www.aic.gov.au The website of the Australian Institute of Criminology, this site proved to be quite helpful in providing information about corporate fraud from more local perspective. Having searched for “corporate fraud” I was provided 468 matches, each rated according to relevance – though some of the ratings did not seem particularly accurate. There is range of material available from conference proceedings dealing with corporate fraud through to papers about the “Pyschology of Fraud”. Another paper (which incidentally only received two out of five stars for relevance) looked at “Identifying and Responding to Corporate Fraud in the 21st Century” and I would have thought you couldn’t get much more relevant than that!

www.cfenet.com The formal nature of this site put me off at first, but given that it is the site of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners you can probably forgive them for taking themselves so seriously. In fact even if you are not interested in becoming an anti-fraud professional there still should be something interesting on this site for you. Head to the “pressroom” for decent wad of press releases from the Association dealing with various aspects of the corporate fraud problem. There is also fraud statistics page that makes for some interesting reading. For example, did you know it is estimated that six percent of revenues will be lost in 2002 as result of occupational fraud and abuse in the US. Applied to the US GDP, this translates to losses of approximately US$600 billion – about US$4500 per employee. Scary.

www.acca.co.uk Given the accounting scandals of the past couple of years I would have expected the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants to have quite lot to say about the subject. Apparently not. I looked for items relating to corporate fraud and was returned two paltry hits. Two articles, one dated July 2002 and the other August 2001. If you are the accounting type then trip to the newscentre may prove more fruitful. It provides the headings from press releases issued by ACCA and you can link through to the full release if it seems relevant. Perhaps “corporate fraud” is termed numerically in accountancy language, try searching under 1+2=4.

www.enrobreport.com This is the website with the online version of “the annual report Enron would have written themselves if they’d had the nerve”. On the site Enrob explains its “Byzantine accounting practices… including the legendary Kickback Redemption Centre, Free Lunch Network, Texas Republican Benevolent Society, and Destitute Executives Golf Fund. Good quality business satire.

www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/corporateresponsibility This section of the Whitehouse’s website details the current administration’s initiatives in dealing with the issue of corporate fraud including copy of the Republican’s Corporate Reform Agenda, press releases, speeches from the President and also video footage. I make no comment about the suitability of this current administration in dealing with corporate excess.

Damon Birchfield is an Auckland-based freelance writer.
Email: [email protected]

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