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The Insider Threat Series: An Introduction to Procurement Fraud

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

An introduction to a series of articles that will highlight the typologies of corruption and its links to procurement fraud and other financial crime, that in many cases to understand the simple nature of the fraud and how with education and the introduction of compliance within organisation procurement systems and ethics procedures in a large percentage of these cases would have prevented the fraud.

Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach.


There can be many factors that help facilitate fraud or influence an organisation's ability to identify and mitigate the fraud and corruption that they are being targeted by. What is essential in all of this is that as individuals we learn from this, to understand the difference between what is procurement fraud and procurement malpractice including what is procurement fraud schemes.


Examining the methodology of the fraud and the root cause of internal control mechanisms that were manipulated, removed, or not in place allowing the fraud to happen brings us closer to preventing and detecting these types of fraud in the future.


The unethical standards of one individual can in some cases destroy a company or its reputation. In a number of cases that will be highlighted within the series, it can be the most trusted person in the organisation or the most unlikely person because of their quiet nature who goes unnoticed that can cause significant financial loss and reputational damage to the organisation.


For individuals working in compliance, there is I believe limited value in understanding the external factors and psychology that may influence a person towards crime and an individual’s justification to themselves and others for committing the act that will never be known until after the fact. The only thing that we can positively influence is their opportunity to commit fraud in the first place by designing out internal risk through an anti-corruption framework.


THE SCOPE OF FRAUD

When assessing the gaps in risk mitigation and control measures it is key to understand the scope of the fraud, the typologies, and methods including individuals that can influence or manipulate the various elements of the procurement lifecycle from the identification of a need to the end of life or disposal of an asset.


Internal fraud can be diverse in nature from a member of staff influencing procedure to acquire an organisation's asset, to individuals linked to organised crime, usually within different areas of the business using their positions not only to hide the fraud through the creation of false paperwork or entries but also abusing their entrusted position within the organisation, as an example, to manipulate financial data or use company vehicles to remove organisation assets.


The external risk can be the same, either as an individual company attempting to commit fraud or can be organised. This can manifest as bid rigging or price fixing. The biggest risk with external fraud however is if they have the support of an insider, who understands the control weaknesses within the organisation that can manipulate the award of a contract or in many cases dishonestly sign off for the receipt or use of materials that they know are inferior.

POSITION OF INFLUENCE

When we understand the scope of procurement fraud and corruption, the next questions should be who can influence the procurement process and do we understand where procurement starts and ends. When we understand the scope of the fraud, the typologies, and who and where the procurement process can be influenced or within large scales projects such as infrastructure or construction, we then get to understand that there are potentially hundreds of ways in which procurement fraud and corruption can be committed.


When looking at the organisation's capability and individuals responsibilities that are directly or indirectly involved in some part with the acquisition of goods, works or services, once mapped out you may suddenly realise that a person’s opinion in the right place can influence a decision maker.


The series of insider threat cases will hopefully enlighten readers to the risks within their own organisation or the environment in which they work and will hopefully as many have commented on training courses that once armed with this knowledge, that it made them more suspicious of behaviours and decisions that are being made.


Have you got a case example of the insider threat, why not share it in our blog posts?


Join our webinar to discuss corruption detection and prevention.