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NEW YORK -- In response to the greater vulnerability to fraud among retailers and others in the current regulatory and political climate, PricewaterhouseCoopers here has issued "A Deeper Dive: Protecting Retail & Consumer Companies Against Fraud and Misconduct at the Business Process Level," a white paper offering a five-step program to help avoid or lessen the impact of significant fraud.
"Sarbanes-Oxley's antifraud requirement focuses on ensuring the accuracy of financial statements, but fraud in a broader sense can devastate a company by jeopardizing intangible assets such as reputation and consumer confidence," said Jonny Frank, Fraud Risk & Controls leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a statement. "Retail and consumer companies must expand their antifraud programs beyond financial reporting controls, and address operational, strategic, legal, compliance, and reputational risks, in order to mitigate significant fraud."
The paper provides a practical framework for implementing a complete and effective fraud management program to help businesses monitor risks that are often dynamic in nature. PricewaterhouseCoopers, five steps to establish stronger fraud management programs are:
--Put into place entity-level controls, such as board oversight, codes of conduct, and anonymous reporting;
--Identify possible fraud risks at the local business unit level;
--Establish entity, business, and transaction level controls to prevent fraud;
--Ensure that effective monitoring is undertaken by management and auditors regularly; and
--Establish and implement procedures in response to, and remediation of, suspected fraud.
The firm's earlier white paper, "Antifraud Programs and Controls in the Retail & Consumer Sector," dealt with the entity-level antifraud programs and controls described in steps one and two, in answer to the Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. The current white paper looks at the techniques in steps three through five, focusing on creating effective preventive controls, timely detection of fraud through controls, ongoing monitoring and fraud auditing, and company response to alleged fraud or misconduct.
Research conducted by the PricewaterhouseCoopers' Fraud Risk & Controls practice has uncovered over 150 fraud schemes common to retail and consumer companies. This white paper examines two of the more common fraud schemes, financial statement manipulation and unauthorized receipts, and includes an appendix with additional common retail and consumer industry fraud schemes.
"Fraud management is a vital component of any business plan," said Frank. "In addition to protecting both fiscal and intangible assets, effective fraud management usually identifies significant cost savings. It can also provide competitive and strategic advantages to companies expanding into new markets, products, or services."