A new forum has been set up to help businesses weave their way through doing business across Africa.
Founded by a 70-strong group of public and private institutions across the continent, the African Financial and Economic Crimes Forum has been established to “facilitate greater innovation, collaboration and realism in this field”.
CEO Humphrey Harrison said the “scale and sophistication of financial and economic crimes are increasing at an alarming rate”, adding that the toll on business and society is becoming untenable.
He explained that one of the problems has been a lack of awareness and collaboration between both enforcement authorities and also businesses.
Mr Harrison told Commercial Risk Africa that this is not just about the CEOs but about everyone working throughout the operation.
“For example,” he said, “if I were a fraudster about to attack a bank, I would not choose to operate at head office where they may have been trained but I would go to see the bank clerk in Jos or Walvis Bay, where they might be intimidated by someone who claims to be a cousin of the bank president.
“These people may not have had the same training either and are much more vulnerable as a result.”
He warned that few African businesses have the right procedures in place to mitigate this risk. “You have to remember this is not a black or white issue, but a thousand degrees of grey. People may not perceive themselves corrupt but they may do something which is corrupt on a very small scale. It is still corrupt but they do not see it that way.”
Another major problem for the continent, he said, was that legislators often lag behind.
“There are huge inefficiencies among important institutions,” he said, “and vital functions are often overlooked. There is often a total disregard for the complexity and changing nature of financial crime.”
Mr Harrison also warned businesses that “they are often aware of the risks around the internet and the threat of cyber crime but often fail to change procedures to meet those threats”.
The new forum is designed to provide: “A dedicated, Africa-focused platform for professionals in this field to share ideas, insights and experiences; to challenge outdated and inappropriate concepts and methods; and to devise, discuss and promote new policies and procedures that are better suited to local conditions and more likely to be effective.”