If you suspect that your company has been or will be defrauded, then there are a number of steps and options that you can take:
1. Fraud detection and investigation
The first important step is to determine whether fraud, or any other criminal activity, has taken place. At this stage, you may have suspicions that fraud has occurred, or you may know for certain. Before you take further action, ask yourself the following:
- What has happened that makes you believe that fraud or corruption has taken place?
- What is the impact/financial loss to your company?
- How has this happened?
- Who is responsible for this?
- When did this take place?
- What evidence, if any, do you already have to support your belief?
To find out the answers to these questions may not be obvious. See our advice on 'How to identify fraud earlier?' for further tips.
2. If fraud has taken place internally
If you have discovered that the fraud has been committed by someone within your organisation, there are a number of actions you can take:
- Seek advice from your professional advisors on how to proceed
- Conduct a full internal investigation
- Dependening on the size of the fraud, you may want to consider taking remedial action against those concerned
If your organisation conducts its own investigation with a view to reporting the matter to regulatory or law enforcement agency, care must be be given to ensuring that evidence is not handled in a way that could jeopardise a subsequent investigation.
There may be other elements to the fraud, such as a large number of complicated transactions, or the involvement of multiple countries and organisations, which may indicate that the fraud is very serious or complex. At this point, it would be of benefit to you and your organisation to report it to us. Please see 'Should I self-report directly to the SFO?' for advice on self-reporting.
3. If fraud was conducted by another company, or external individuals
Before contacting any external agency to report fraud, you could consider seeking advice from your professional advisors and lawyers.
There are several places you can go to report fraud. To report fraud to us, please see 'Does it fit SFO criteria?'. If it appears to be a civil matter which we would do not investigate, there are some other available options:
- Regulatory issues should be referred to the industry authority
- Financial regulatory issues should be referred to the Financial Services Authority (FSA)
- Suspected corporate misconduct that does not amount to fraud should be directed to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
- We do not become involved in contractual or civil disputes between parties unless there is clear evidence of criminal conduct
4. Next steps
Dealing with fraud does not stop at reporting it to a law enforcement agency. Investigations can take a long time and will need your co-operation to be successful. Although fraud can be hugely destructive, you can try to mitigate the impact on your company see our advice on for how to avoid fraud and improve your processes.