Why it is important to continue to investigate during COVID-19? Here are some practical steps to assist investigators in overcoming physical distancing.
KPMG’s COVID-19 Fraud Survey revealed 42 per cent of respondents believed their ability to investigate fraud and corruption had been inhibited because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Operating in a COVID-19 environment has highlighted multiple challenges for investigators to overcome when conducting investigations.
Physical distancing measures are restricting the way that we traditionally approach investigations, and the current circumstances mean that we must rethink how we gather evidence and interview. Here we discuss the current challenges for investigators, and how investigation strategies could be adjusted.
Our businesses and normal operations are disrupted, with most operating in crisis mode. This means that investigations may be paused or have failed to start as resources are diverted. This is significant, and while it may be tempting to stop investigations while your organisation is under pressure, it is important that this work continues.
Where an instance of fraud, corruption or serious misconduct is identified, it is integral that you undertake the necessary investigation to determine whether the allegations are substantiated or not, as highlighted in our Fraud Survey on managing fraud and corruption.
Investigations are shown to deter or disrupt other potential inappropriate actions and assist in setting the tone during uncertain times. This is a practical and important deterrent when you consider that 83 per cent of survey respondents believed the risk of fraud and corruption will increase during COVID-19.
Perhaps this view that fraud risk has increased dramatically is borne out of experiences during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). KPMG’s 2010 Fraud & Corruption Misconduct Survey showed that the value of fraud detected in Australia had more than doubled in the second half of 2009, potentially reflecting fraud events that began during the GFC.
Below, we provide some practical tips to assist investigators navigating the challenges of COVID-19 and enable investigations to continue.
Most investigations will involve interviewing witnesses, but depending on the type of investigation being conducted you may be required to prepare witness statements. Below are some considerations when managing and interviewing witnesses during social distancing and remote working.
The way in which you record an interview will vary depending on the type of investigation being conducted. Some general tips for interviewers where there is suspected improper conduct.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this article and would like speak to someone from our team please contact us.