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Cost of white-collar crime increases dramatically

Zurich courts presided over many of the cases of fraud Keystone

White-collar criminals in Switzerland caused significantly more damage in 2013 than the previous year, according to a study released on Tuesday by consultants KPMG. Proceedings in Swiss courts totalled CHF803 million ($888 million), a two-thirds increase over 2012.

A total of 58 cases were closed, down from 64 in 2012. However, CHF559 million was related to just four cases, three of them involving players in the financial sector, according to KPMG’s Forensic Fraud Barometer.

KPMG stressed that many cases of white-collar crime were not brought to court, meaning that the number would continue to rise overall. Economic crimes are most often uncovered two to three years after they occur, it said.

In addition to financial institutions and companies, public administration is increasingly a target of fraud.

As in 2012, the greatest number of cases were handled by courts in canton Zurich. There, the number of cases dropped by a third to 21, but the total amount of damages increased from nearly CHF179 million to CHF253 million.

This decrease in the number of cases but increase in their value appeared to be a trend throughout Switzerland.

Most of the cases handled in Swiss courts involved embezzlement (20 cases) and criminal mismanagement (12 cases). The defendants reported using the money for gambling, luxury items and to support their lifestyle.

The Forensic Fraud Barometer was based on economic crimes with a value of at least CHF50,000 which were tried in Swiss courts and reported in the media.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR