White-collar crime in Switzerland caused losses of CHF 363 million in 2019. The average loss sustained has more than doubled relative to the previous year from around CHF 3.3 to 7.7 million, with fraudsters targeting public institutions and customers most frequently. These are some of the insights revealed by the latest edition of the KPMG Forensic Fraud Barometer.
Swiss courts heard 48 cases involving a minimum loss amount of CHF 50,000 and total losses of CHF 363 million last year, a staggering 119 percent increase over the previous year (CHF 166 million). While the number of white-collar crimes is slightly lower at 48 cases (2018: 50 cases), the loss sustained per case has more than doubled from CHF 3.3 to 7.7 million. Since experience shows that a large number of cases are never even reported, the actual figures are likely to be several times higher.
As was already the case in 2018, most of the crimes last year were committed by professional fraudsters (14 cases), followed by employees (11 cases) and members of management (11 cases). By far the largest loss, CHF 136 million, was attributable to members of management. One thing that stands out is the sudden increase in the total loss amount attributable to this group of perpetrators, which was more than ten times higher than in the previous year (2018: CHF 12 million). Employees are the second-largest group of perpetrators in terms of the loss amount (CHF 63 million). “KPMG’s 2019 Forensic Fraud Barometer reveals that insiders pose the biggest threat. Last year, employees and members of management were responsible for nearly half of all cases and for more than half of the total losses sustained,” says Anne van Heerden, Head of Forensic at KPMG.
In terms of the number of cases, organized crime seems negligible with only two offences. However, with a total average loss of CHF 25 million, it is responsible for the largest loss amount per court case. Viewed across all perpetrator groups, the average loss amount was CHF 7.7 million. Nine criminal acts caused losses in excess of CHF 10 million.
Customers (12 cases worth CHF 96 million) and public institutions (10 cases worth CHF 144 million) were the hardest-hit victim groups. Financial institutions also found themselves confronted with enormous criminal energy: Compared to the previous year, the number of cases tried in public doubled from three to six, while the total losses involved in those cases almost tripled from CHF 15 million in 2018 to CHF 43 million.
At CHF 29 million, the average loss was by far the highest in the “Mittelland” region where four cases caused a total loss of CHF 116 million. With respect to the number of cases, the areas hardest hit by white-collar crime are the Lake Geneva region (13 cases) and Zurich (12 cases), with half of the offenses tried in court in 2019 having been committed in these regions. Like in 2018, Central Switzerland, with two offences worth CHF 1.4 million, and Ticino, which had just one publicly prosecuted offense worth CHF 2.6 million, were not affected as heavily. The total loss involved in the three cases tried before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona was CHF 53 million.
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 analyzing more than 4,000 relevant articles from several different Swiss media outlets in 2019. The current edition of the KPMG Forensic Fraud Barometer only included articles concerning cases of white-collar crimes which were tried by Swiss courts of first instance and involved losses in excess of CHF 50,000.