In 2018, 50 major cases of white-collar crime in Switzerland caused a total loss of around CHF 166 million. Professional fraudsters were the largest group of perpetrators. Most of the convictions came from cases heard by courts in Zurich and Northeastern Switzerland. These are the key findings of the most recent edition of the “KPMG Forensic Fraud Barometer”.
White-collar crime in Switzerland caused a total loss of around CHF 166 million in 2018, with 50 cases involving a minimum loss amount of CHF 50,000 heard by Swiss courts over the course of the year. The total loss was around 61% lower than the previous year (2017: CHF 426 million). There was also a perceptible year-on-year drop in the number of cases heard by courts, namely from 59 to 50 (-15.3%). No general decrease in white-collar crime in Switzerland can be reliably inferred on the basis of this decline, however. KPMG’s statistics only include those court cases which were tried in public and reported in the media. Since experience has shown that the vast majority of these crimes are never even reported, it can be assumed that the number of unreported cases is high.
While the management of the defrauded companies and organizations was behind the majority of white-collar crimes in 2017, most of the offences were committed by professional fraudsters in 2018 (15 cases). With respect to the loss amount, however, management and/or employees represent the largest group of perpetrators and accounted for a total defrauded amount of CHF 94 million, meaning that perpetrators from inside the companies caused the greatest losses.
With 24 cases and a total loss of CHF 50 million, the group comprising cooperatives, relief organizations or clubs and associations incurred the largest loss through white-collar crimes in 2018. Fraudsters also frequently targeted investors, in 2018 to the tune of CHF 47.7 million. Final verdicts in another three court cases involved total losses of CHF 15.2 million sustained by financial institutions.
Most court cases involving white-collar crime were heard in the Zurich region and Northeastern Switzerland: The total loss of the 18 cases that have reached a final, legally binding verdict in the Zurich region came to CHF 25.7 million and even exceeded CHF 57 million for the 15 cases tried in Northeastern Switzerland. The total loss involved in three of the cases tried before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona was CHF 48.8 million. On the other hand, the cases heard in Central Switzerland concerned comparatively smaller loss amounts.
Example 1: An employee working as a project manager had been awarding fictitious orders to the companies of people he knew for ten years. This allowed the perpetrators to generate several million francs in fraudulent earnings, which they shared.
Example 2: In another case, the owner of an industrial firm embezzled donations to his former company worth the equivalent of CHF 4.39 million, which had actually been intended for relief organizations.
The “KPMG Forensic Fraud Barometer” covers all court cases tried in public and reported in the media over the course of the year. Data for the study was compiled by surveying and analyzing more than 3,000 relevant newspaper articles from several different Swiss newspapers in 2018. The current edition of the KPMG Forensic Fraud Barometer only included articles concerning cases of white-collar-related crimes which were tried by Swiss courts of first instance and involved losses in excess of CHF 50,000.