More than a quarter of Irish businesses have been victims of economic crime such as fraud and money laundering during the past two years, with incidents of cybercrime almost doubling since 2011, according to a new study.
As many as 26 per cent of firms said their organisation had experienced crime, with theft remaining the most common form reported, the PwC Irish Economic Crime Survey showed. This is the same level as two years ago and is markedly lower than for western Europe as a whole, where crime levels have risen to 35 per cent from 30 per cent.
The study indicates that incidents of cybercrime in Ireland have risen from 24 per cent to 45 per cent since 2011, making it the second-most common type of crime experienced by businesses.
In terms of financial loss, 23 per cent of Irish organisations that were the victim of cybercrime suffered a loss of between €40,000 and €75,000, while 18 per cent said this loss was between €75,000 and €750,000. As many as 6 per cent of companies said the loss was almost €4 million.
Cybercrime is also perceived as the economic crime posing the highest risk to business in the future with 27 per cent of organisations in Ireland expecting a rise in this type of criminal activity.
Other types of popular crimes reported against companies included money laundering, which was up 6 per cent to 25 per cent, mortgage fraud, IP infringement, procurement fraud, and bribery and corruption, all of which were up since the last study was undertaken two years ago.
"Economic crime persists despite ongoing efforts to tackle it. No organisation of any size anywhere in the world is immune to the impact of fraud and other crimes," said Paul Tuite of PwC. "Even worse than the direct impact of economic crime is its cost in terms of management time, its threat to a wide range of business systems and processes and its impact on corporate reputations and the integrity of employees."
He said organisations could not afford to be complacent. “They need to understand where and how they are exposed to economic crime and then to make it more difficult for crimes to be committed.”
As many as 10 per cent of Irish businesses said they had lost more than €750,000 as a result of crime, while 40 per cent said the loss was between €75,000 and €750,000.