Swiss courts tried 57 major cases of white-collar crime last year involving losses of more than SFr1.57 billion ($1.49 billion), according to the KPMG “fraud barometer”.
Although the total number of cases fell by almost a quarter, the total value involved increased by 54 per cent, swollen by the largest-ever organised crime and money-laundering trial to come before the Federal Criminal Court (see related cigarette smuggling story).
The audit specialists described the average perpetrator as “men who have been with the company for more than two years, are inconspicuous and primarily from upper-level management”.
But professional fraudsters also remain active, and employees not in management and customers still accounted for one in five cases last year, KPMG said.
The financial crisis has put increasing pressure on companies and their employees and KMPG predicts that the number of white-collar crime cases coming before the courts will rise.
The main victims of white-collar crime in 2009 were private investors (19 cases) and financial institutions (13 cases).
The court records showed that the ill-gotten gains were put to a variety of uses, with some disappearing on drugs, in casinos and red-light districts. One of the leading luxury purchases was expensive real estate.
In compiling the fraud barometer, KPMG considered cases with damages amounting to at least SFr50,000.