Tackling corporate fraud in the Middle East

Corporate fraud in the Middle East

Tackling corporate fraud in the middle east has become even more challenging during the pandemic. ICAEW Insights sat down with our founder and chief executive, Zafar Anjum, to discuss the rising levels of corporate fraud in the middle east during the pandemic and how CRI Group is using AI to investigate wrongdoing.

From fake degrees and doctored CVs to false insurance claims and bogus bills, corporate fraud investigators in the Middle East have seen it all. Founder and chief executive of Corporate Research and Investigations Group (CRI) Zafar Anjum told ICAEW his firm was busier than ever as the pandemic triggered a rise in white-collar crime cases across the region.

From its base in London, Zafar’s team has been helping firms in middle east regions like Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, where Anti-fraud frameworks are still being built out inside the embryonic corporate regulatory regimes that govern the Middle East.“We’ve seen a lot of insurance fraud claim investigations, fake bills, fake debts and fraudulent certificates designed to cheat insurance companies,” Zafar said. “Covid is definitely affecting this because internal controls are relaxed in this environment; people are working from home, so the usual check and balances are missing.”

Nascent regulatory regime

Last year, PwC research found corporate fraud was on the rise across the region, with nearly half of all local companies reporting at least one occurrence in 12 months. 

Zafar said the lack of counter-corruption model legislation such as the UK Bribery Act 2010 often meant policing the business areas such as the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) fell to private companies as the regulator doesn’t have the resources to cover the scale of the problem.

“In the Middle East, the issues relating to fraud and corruption are of concern because there isn’t the legislation when compared to developed countries. The definition of fraud and fraudulent activities are different across the Middle East,” he said. 

The DIFC was established in 2004 to create a safe and constant upward regulatory environment for companies to do business. One of its aims was to attract investment from London and Wall Street firms and other corporates from both continents. A regulator was created to monitor the market, and the set-up was replicated for the Abu Dhabi and Qatar financial business districts. 

The economic “free zones” have relied on firms themselves to help shape the regulatory framework, Zafar said, which has created a mixture of frameworks as standards are broadly aligned with the UK or US markets.

“It’s not national-level legislation, which carries its own problems. There have been scandals, and a lot of that centres on fraudulent financial statements, investment scams,” Zafar said. “A prevalent problem is vendor/third-party screening and false claims, especially during the bidding process. Some firms exaggerate their capabilities and are not able to deliver.”

Investor scams on the rise

A big part of CRI’s work is analysing financial statements, checking backgrounds, and working with compliance teams to root out bad actors. 

Zafar said investors scams were also on the rise across the UAE; because the country is ripe for development, some fraudsters had found it easy to prey on foreign victims who are drawn to the opportunities but unwilling to carry out proper due diligence. 

The UAE’s family offices are a driving force of industry, and the name carries significant weight regarding deals. 

“It’s very risky to invest without carrying out the proper checks, and unfortunately, a lot of people come in blind,” Zafar said. “Fake property claims are rife. It can be individuals who are targeted or small groups of foreign investors. One case involved a handful of US investors who wanted to invest in some economic and humanitarian projects. They wanted to create jobs, other activities, but fell in with people who weren’t with the families they claim to be a part of.” 

Family names are often taken by scammers and used to convince investors to part with their cash fairly frequently, Zafar said. 

“Because many people don’t care about due diligence, it can end up costing millions of dollars,” he said. “It’s so hard to recover the money, to catch the fraudster. If the victims don’t have local consultants or experts, it can be hard to trace back and recover the damages.” An investor group puts its trust — and its funds — in the hands of an outside business partner without considering a due diligence check on the individual.

Eighteen months into the partnership, the individual has succeeded in fleecing the group of more than $6 million and is still at large.

Investigators such as CRI are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to help with screening. Zafar said great strides had been made in tackling corruption and bribery.

Public and private investigation partnerships

Databases of politically exposed individuals, or persons with links to crime, on watchlists or have criminal activity linked to their name or accounts are rapidly being populated for use by regulators and private investigators. 

“We’re trying to prove that there is a role for AI in detecting crime and that it can be a part of the investigative process. Machines will scan publicly available databases, criminal cases and the like, and we can check if firms have been blacklisted by authorities such as the Asian Development Bank, IMF or World Bank, which is really helpful.”

In the past, these checks would have to be carried out by hand, one by one. 

“It’s hard, almost impossible! Name matches are probably the largest problem in the Middle East. You cannot find a person with the first name Mohammad or last name Khan; you’ll get billions of matches, so we need to develop a database that builds on this with other information. There isn’t a nationwide electoral database in any Middle East region, so you can see how much work still has to be done.”

Credit history, employment checks and previous addresses are a handful of ways the files can be built out, Zafar said, and his team is working on ways to streamline that process.

There was no concept of background screening in 2008 when Zafar’s team started, and despite having come a long way, he said they still encounter fraud on a massive scale. 

However, they still encounter fraud on a huge scale, he said. 

Alarming numbers

“Sometimes applicants try to falsely fill the gap in their CV, which is dangerous because we don’t know if they’ve spent time in jail,” he said. “More common red flags are fake degrees and fake previous employment references. We found one in 20 applications for a job had fake degrees, experience letters, or fake references in some regions. It’s a huge number, and some of the universities were prestigious too, which makes it quite alarming.”

Another big area of focus is auditing gifts and donations passed through a company concerning projects carried out. His team works with companies to ensure their anti-bribery controls are as robust as possible, given the tough penalties on offer. 

“It’s a criminal liability for a company, and the directors will be liable if they don’t have the proper anti-bribery procedures in place,” Zadar said. “Accounts and financial teams are critical to making sure firms have proper internal controls.”

CRI is also on a mission to stamp out “box-ticking” compliance, which has traditionally been a problem across the Middle East due to the nascent regulatory framework. 

“If you’re conducting audits, nothing will happen if this is the way; you’ll never spot the problem,” he said. “The role of accountants, whether internal or external, to shape the controls and make sure they are implemented effectively.”

He said bribery through sales commissions, waste for public service, sexual extortion or sextortion as a form of corruption could be rife in some sectors. It was up to companies to ensure money wasn’t being paid outside official channels to staff. 

“We understand it’s a process for some firms who are not used to doing it this way, but we’re here to help,” he said. “Companies need to establish their compliance documentation and make sure it’s up to the standard. The most important areas are due diligence and anti-bribery policies. This should not be a paper-based box-ticking exercise, it has to be implemented, and every employee must know the company believes in zero-tolerance of corruption.” 

Visit ICAEW’s Fraud hub for related articles and case studies, or to see the original article, click here. Fraud help sheets prepared by ICAEW Technical Advisory Service to assist you in your day-to-day work.

Meet our CEO

Zafar I. Anjum is Group Chief Executive Officer of CRI Group (www.crigroup.com), a global supplier of investigative, forensic accounting, business due diligence and employee background screening services for some of the world’s leading business organisations.  Headquartered in London (with a significant presence throughout the region) and licensed by the Dubai International Financial Centre-DIFC, the Qatar Financial Center-QFC, and the Abu Dhabi Global Market-ADGM, CRI Group safeguards businesses by establishing the legal compliance, financial viability, and integrity levels of outside partners, suppliers and customers seeking to affiliate with your business. CRI Group maintains offices in UAE, Pakistan, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, China, the USA, and the United Kingdom.

Contact CRI Group to learn more about its 3PRM-Certified™ third-party risk management strategy program and discover an effective and proactive approach to mitigating the risks associated with corruption, bribery, financial crimes and other dangerous risks posed by third-party partnerships.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Zafar Anjum, MSc, MS, CFE, CII, MICA, Int. Dip. (Fin. Crime) | CRI Group Chief Executive Officer

37th Floor, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AA United Kingdom

t: +44 207 8681415 | m: +44 7588 454959 | e: zanjum@crigroup.com

 

Who is CRI Group?

Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk Management, Employee Background Screening, Business IntelligenceDue Diligence, Compliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are, we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched the Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 37301:2021 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.

 

How to conduct background screening in the Middle East?

Background screening is critically important for business worldwide. Providing such service is a complex process, and it is different for every country and region. In the United States, investigators have a web of databases at their disposal and a vast network of local resources that provide a wealth of information at the mere click of a mouse. It’s a different world in the Middle East. Technology is limited in many parts of the region.  Privacy legislation varies from country to country and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Cultural differences can impact the flow of information. Language barriers can contribute to inaccurate reporting.

Background Screening in the Middle East

Instead of database-driven investigations like those conducted in the U.S, professionals in the Middle East must conduct large parts of their investigations literally on foot, travelling to remote regions to scour records and interview sources. If you’re looking for accurate, reliable information in the Middle East you need to turn to qualified, professional sources that are familiar with the countries, cultures, terrain, languages, resources and – most of all – the laws that govern personal privacy. In this part of the world, your contacts and resources are your greatest assets.

Discovering Hard-to-Find Facts in Hard-to-Reach Locations

The biggest challenge in conducting background investigations in the Middle East is collecting reliable information most efficiently. This requires a well-trained and diverse group of professional investigators who are multilingual and multi-cultural, are familiar with those geographic regions and can easily traverse the obstacles that often impede international investigations. Those obstacles include:

  • Working with local customs offices.
  • Complying with data protection laws and mandates.
  • Knowledge level of local investigative researchers.
  • Lack of centralised information resources and databases; and
  • The proliferation of multicultural environments that are particularly influenced by locals who vastly differ in their approaches to investigative screening and public record searches, particularly with information collected via database sources.

The Obstacle of Background Investigators in the Middle East

To address these obstacles, successful background investigators in the Middle East are often required to work deep in the field, travelling to remote destinations to conduct interviews, develop resources and enlist local assistance to verify the information. Leading background screening firms will conduct investigations that regularly involve a thorough review of local press records, using online and proprietary databases augmented by manual field research to locate the appropriate public records.

This in-depth investigative approach is necessary to bring to light any instances of malfeasance or notable, publicly aired criticism. These professionals will also research all public records that are available within the respective government institutions such as a region’s trial courts, police and SEC sources, and global sanctions lists. The goal of providing this level of investigative legwork is to collect timely, well-documented and substantiated information which will measure up to the high standards often required by our U.S. partners.

Partner With Reputable Background Screening Firms in the Middle East

As the world economy shrinks and the pool of foreign job applicants expands, a partnership with a reputable international employee screening service provider to conduct investigations abroad is essential for maintaining a safe hiring program for your clients. To ensure you’re using the best providers available, a little investigating of your own will result in big benefits down the road.

Checklist on Securing Reputable Background Screening Service:

  • Research the listing of expatriate background screening firms provided by the Professional Background Screening Association https://thepbsa.org/.
  • Ask your provider how they comply with local and regional laws governing individual privacy protection; the methods they utilise in protecting information.
  • Make sure your service provider’s physical address is in the region they’re conducting investigations. If not, they could be simply outsourcing their cases to a third party.
  • Ask about the manner in which your service provider conducts investigations. Avoid firms that investigate exclusively through media searches.
  • Inquire about the internal policies and procedures the service provider uses to monitor the protection of data and if it conducts regular audits to ensure compliance with regional privacy mandates.
  • Specifically, the provider should be in compliance with GDPR and must maintain Information Security Management System ISMS (ISO27001).
  • Don’t settle for firms that say they specialise in providing checks of the International Terrorist Watch List and the OFAC watch list. Those lists are available online to anyone at no cost.
  • Avoid firms that won’t supply you with the source of the records they obtain, were available from public record resources. Also, be sure to ask how old the information collected is.
  • Reputable firms will combine in-depth field investigations with routine public records searches. Make sure your provider is doing both. Background checks involve investigative research and not just press clippings.
  • Service delivery is critical in foreign investigations. Ask about average turnaround times and get commitments for delivery in advance of the investigation.
  • Find out what other U.S. companies use as a service provider. Ask for references.
Employee Background Check

How do you know the candidate you just offered a role to is the ideal candidate? Are you 100% sure you know that everything they’re telling you is the truth? 90%? They showed you a diploma, how do you know it’s not photoshopped? Did you follow the correct laws during your background checks process? Employee background checks and necessary screenings are vital to avoid horror stories and taboo tales that occur within HR, your business, or even your brand – simply investing in a sufficient screening can save you time, money and heartbreak.

CRI Group has developed EmploySmart™, a robust new pre-employment background screening service, certified for BS7858,  to avoid negligent hiring liabilities. Ensure a safe work environment for all – EmploySmart™ can be tailored into specific screening packages to meet the requirements of each specific position within your company. We are a leading worldwide provider, specialised in local and international employee background checks, including pre-employment and post-employment background checks.

About CRI Group

Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk ManagementEmployee Background ScreeningBusiness IntelligenceDue DiligenceCompliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are, we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, the CRI Group launched the Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 37301 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.

Personal Due Diligence, Tips You Need to Know

Personal Due Diligence In Everyday Transactions

In the business world, due diligence refers to the investigation and steps were taken by organisations to satisfy all legal requirements before buying or selling products/ services or entering into a contract or a financial arrangement with another party. An Integrity Due Diligence allows an organisation to reduce risks – including risks arising from the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) and the UKBA (U.K. Bribery Act), to make informed decisions and pursue takeovers or mergers with more confidence. Due diligence is vital to prevent many types of fraud. While in some cases, it is also up to the consumer to do their own personal due diligence. Due diligence sounds complicated, but it is merely the process of doing your homework before you make a significant commitment.

Most of us practice personal due diligence even though we may not think of it that way (i.e. research on the internet before making a purchase or deciding what restaurant to go to). In this process, we are doing our “due diligence” to get the best deal. The level of proper due diligence should be proportionate to the level of commitment involved and your specific status. So when buying a house, the due diligence ought to be more extensive (i.e. a family with children may want to check out the rating of the schools in the area). Another personal area to conduct due diligence involves a new job offer (i.e., the organisation known to treat its employees well). These areas involve a significant amount of due diligence on your part before accepting a new position at a new company.

Due Diligence Makes Trust Possible

In the U.K., the lack of clarity from the Government has already caused problems. Many landlords are averse to letting their properties to non-UK nationals if they are in breach of the Right to Rent rules post-Brexit. The Government is under increased pressure to give clear guidance on post-Brexit Right to Work and Right to Rent checks. Whether you are renting a property, having home renovations done, buying insurance, getting a mortgage, or even entering a new romantic relationship, you can use due diligence to protect yourself. Due diligence can prevent potential fraud and some other types of scams.

The following are tips on how to avoid fraud:

  • Know who you are dealing with, ask questions and verify the information;
  • Check with the governing body for licensing and insurance requirements;
  • Scammers pressure you to act immediately. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand;
  • Don’t sign anything for large amounts of money without having it reviewed by your lawyer;
  • Scammers say there’s a problem or a prize. Do not give out your personal information without verifying who is getting it;
  • Be cautious if you are asked to make up-front payments;
  • Get company information, including name and address and ensure that a written contract backs all verbal promises;
  • Have a contract in place for things like construction work;
  • Never give an unsolicited caller access to your computer;
  • Do not give out a credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the number you are calling came from a trusted source;
  • Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way. Never wire money unless you’re absolutely confident that you’re sending it to someone you know;
  • Be suspicious of any calls from supposedly distressed relatives who don’t give their names. After hanging up, try calling the family member with the phone numbers you have to see if they actually need help;
  • Scammers pretend to be from an organisation you know. Be suspicious of any calls from a supposed government agency or other businesses demanding payments; and
  • Landlords should check references (in some cases, a police criminal record check), credit reports, and employment information of potential tenants.

Online Fraud is on the rise

In a time of crisis, we often see the best in people. Even before COVID-19 was officially classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global pandemic, citizens and government leaders alike praised the selfless sacrifice of doctors, nurses, first responders and others putting themselves in harm’s way to help treat and limit the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, a crisis can also bring out the worst in some people; fraudsters prey on fear and confusion.

The research shows that online fraud is on the increase too. Fraudsters are using the surge in online activity to target unsuspecting consumers. Online retailer sectors saw rising transaction volumes in March 2020 compared to the previous year, with 97% in Home products and furnishings, 136% in DIY products, 163% in garden essentials, and 26.6% in electronics.

Online Due Diligence Tips:

  • Change online passwords regularly and make them secure (don’t use standard information about yourself);
  • Don’t post personal info such as date of birth or mailing address on social media sites;
  • Have the most current firewall and anti-virus software on your computer;
  • Don’t send financial or any other type of personal information by email or text;
  • When purchasing online, make sure the site is secure. It should begin with HTTPS;
  • Don’t open links that appear in an email asking you to start a financial transaction. Go directly to the organisation’s website;
  • Don’t download software programs or apps from an unsecured source; and
  • Don’t use unsecured WiFi (such as in a coffee shop) if the device you are using has personal information on it.
Due Diligence 360

Don’t fall prey to unscrupulous business dealings and outside threats. At CRI Group, we specialise in Integrity Due Diligence, working as trusted partners to businesses and institutions worldwide. Our people work with energy, insight and care to ensure we provide a positive experience to everyone involved – clients, reference providers and candidates.

Our DueDiligence360™ expose vulnerabilities and threats that can cause serious damage to your organisation and can significantly reduce business. The world’s largest corporations trust CRI Group and consultancies – outsource your due diligence to an experienced provider, and you will only ever have to look forward, never back.

About CRI Group

Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk ManagementEmployee Background ScreeningBusiness IntelligenceDue DiligenceCompliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched the Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management SystemsISO 37301:2021 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.

Speak Up | Report Illegal, Unethical or Improper Behaviour

Ethics and Compliance Hotline is an anonymous reporting mechanism that facilitates reporting of possible illegal, unethical, or improper conduct when the normal channels of communication have proven ineffective or are impractical under the circumstances. At CRI Group, we are committed to having an open dialogue on ethical dilemmas regardless. We want to introduce a new Ethics & Compliance Hotline. This hotline is available to all employees and clients, contractors, vendors, and others in a business relationship with CRI Group and ABAC Group.

If you find yourself in an ethical dilemma or suspect inappropriate or illegal conduct, and you feel uncomfortable reporting through normal channels of communication, or wish to raise the issue anonymously, use CRI Group’s Compliance Hotline in below mentioned ways or provide us with your complaint online on the form below. The Compliance Hotline is a secure and confidential reporting channel managed by an independent provider. When reporting a concern in good faith, you will be protected by CRI Group’s Non-Retaliation Policy.

What Can You Report?

Feel free to report any known or suspected noncompliant behaviour or violations with any regulatory mandates and/or local policies, including but not limited to:

  • Ethical standards Violations

  • Violation of laws and Company Policy and internal control

  • Risk and Safety

  • Theft, embezzlement or misappropriate of assets and fraud

  • Bribery and corruption

  • Employee Rights, Employee Relation, Work Environment

  • Privacy laws or security of personal information

  • Discrimination

  • The dispute related to Supervisor, H.R. and other Departments

  • Physical and Verbal Harassment on Workplace

  • Issues related to job responsibilities

  • The report related to a suspicious activity being a witness

  • Unfair dismissals

Our Compliance Hotline is accessible by both phone and online. If you make a report directly by telephone, you will speak with the Compliance Department directly. If you submit a report online, the system will guide you through the reporting process, and a PIN generated automatically once you complete the report.

Q&A on how corporate fraud and corruption affect businesses in the UAE 2021

CRI Group and its ABAC® Center of Excellence were featured in Financier Worldwide’s InDepth Feature: Corporate fraud and corruption 2021. In this edition, CRI Group’s CEO Zafar Anjum and ABAC®’s Scheme Manager Huma Khalid talk about how corporate fraud and corruption affect businesses not only in the UK and UAE, but across the globe, and provide solutions and insights for businesses to become better protected from corporate fraud, bribery and corruption.

Q. To what extent have you seen a notable rise in the level of corporate fraud, bribery and corruption uncovered in the UAE?

A. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) remains the least corrupt country in the Middle East and North Africa region. It was perhaps fitting that the United Nations (UN) held its anti-corruption conference in the UAE just over a year ago. At the conference, delegates drafted anti-corruption resolutions and discussed asset recovery, international cooperation, and other topics in preparation for an upcoming special session of the UN General Assembly against corruption. Of course, there is still much work to be done. Fraud, bribery and money laundering are still problems in the UAE that require a united focus to overcome. Of special concern is the real estate sector, which some have called a haven for stashing and laundering cash. In some cases, these funds are linked to terrorist financing, raising the alarm beyond just the balance sheet for typical financial or corporate fraud.

Q. Have there been any legal and regulatory changes implemented in the UAE designed to combat fraud and corruption? What penalties do companies face for failure to comply?

A. The recent Anti-Commercial Fraud Law in the UAE strengthened rules around counterfeiting and intellectual property (IP) theft, among other areas. In addition, lawmakers and regulators are applying an anti-fraud focus to other laws. A perfect example is the UAE’s Insolvency Law 2020. The Ministry of Finance announced that penalties will be imposed on those who fraudulently abuse the law. This could include making a fake claim or a sham debt against a debtor or illegally increasing a debt amount. Such offences are punishable by jail time and fines. An awareness campaign by the UAE Banks Federation (UBF), the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), Abu Dhabi Police, and Dubai Police was the first such collaboration in the UAE and it comes as both corporate and consumer fraud have increased. Companies are expected to protect their stakeholders’ investments, and failure to do so can lead to regulatory and legal punishments.

Q. In your opinion, do regulators in the UAE have sufficient resources to enforce the law in this area? Are they making inroads?

A. There are at least two daunting tasks facing regulators in the UAE at present: detecting and preventing money laundering and stemming the growing threat of cyber crime. While these problems are not unique to the UAE, they do require significant investment and increased investigation and enforcement efforts. Recent reports allege that illicit funds flow through ‘free trade zones’ and into real estate deals, such as luxurious properties in Dubai and other locations. The laws are in place to punish such crimes, but more inroads will need to be made to bring this under control in a country that largely succeeds at fighting fraud in other areas. Cyber crime is also a constant challenge that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many fraudsters have sought to take advantage of companies having to transition to different employment models, such as remote working. Fraud fighters are working hard to stay ahead of the curve in this regard.

Q. If a company finds itself subject to a government investigation or dawn raid, how should it respond?

A. If a company finds itself under investigation, one of the first things it must do is mandate down the chain of command that employees cooperate fully with investigators. Any efforts to the contrary may be considered obstruction, and lead to more punishments or a higher likelihood of penalties at the end. In contrast, engaging in a good-faith effort to assist an investigation may weigh in the company’s favour.

Questions will arise, such as: Was this a surprise? What are the facts of the case? How did this occur? Legal counsel must be engaged immediately, but it is also important to speak with compliance officers, risk management, executives and the board in a transparent way to help the company move forward. Communicate a zero-tolerance policy toward fraud, and if employees are proven to have engaged in such behaviour, they should be terminated and prosecuted.

Q. What role are whistleblowers playing in the fight against corporate fraud and corruption? How important is it to train staff to identify and report potentially fraudulent activity?

A. Some business leaders falsely believe that audits, account reconciliation and other procedures offer the best protection against fraud. They are important functions, but they are not the most effective detection method. Fraud is often uncovered by tips, according to the ACFE’s Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. Employees are truly the front line of defence for companies, and the first to throw up warning flags about unethical behaviour. The question is whether companies listen to their employees. And is there an easy, anonymous way for employees to submit tips, without fear of retaliation? Companies should educate employees about the red flags of fraud, and then make sure they know they can and should report it.

Q. What advice can you offer to companies on conducting an internal investigation to follow up on suspicions of fraud or corruption?

A. If the company does not have an experienced team of anti-fraud professionals on staff, it is crucial to enlist the help of an outside firm with experts who specialise in this area. There are mistakes companies make at the beginning of an investigation that can haunt them later. For example, most countries, including the UAE, have laws that govern the proper collecting and handling of evidence. With most evidence in a digital format, following the right protocols is more important than ever. There are also important guidelines for interviewing witnesses and those suspected of fraud which, when disregarded, could lead to a failed investigation. The bottom line is: do not go it alone – get expert professional help. And if criminal conduct is discovered, contact the authorities.

Q. What general steps can companies take to proactively prevent corruption and fraud within their organisation?

A. Preventing and detecting fraud starts with a company’s employees, so training and communication are key. First, employees must be trained on what constitutes fraud, bribery and corruption, how to recognise it, and how to report it. Second, the company must communicate that fraud will not be tolerated on any level, and those who commit fraud will be terminated and prosecuted if they are found to have broken the law. Companies should also have anti-corruption and anti-fraud controls in place, including an employee code of conduct, regular and surprise audits, and a fraud reporting system available to employees, contractors and even customers. Achieving certification in internationally recognised standards, such as ISO 37001 ABMS, is a good practice too. When it comes to fraud and corruption, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Being proactive is truly the only practical option for protecting the business and its assets.

 

Meet Zafar ZAFAR ANJUM, Group Chief Executive Officer

Zafar Anjum is founder and group CEO at CRI Group, and its ABAC Center of Excellence. He uses his extensive knowledge and expertise in creating stable and secure networks across challenging global markets. For organisations needing large project management, security, safeguard and real-time compliance applications, Mr Anjum is the assurance expert of choice for industry professionals.

Corporate Research and Investigations | t: +44 (0)7588 454 959 | e: zanjum@crigroup.com

Meet HUMA KHALID,  Scheme Manager

Huma Khalid, as scheme manager, is responsible for leading ABAC. Ms Khalid’s responsibilities include planning and overseeing all aspects of the ABAC programme, which include certification and training. Additionally, she oversees the compliance department for the implementation, management and internal audit of CRI Group’s and ABAC compliance programmes

ABAC Center of Excellence Limited | t: +44 (0)777 652 4355 | e: huma.k@abacgroup.com

About CRI Group

CRI GROUP works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international risk management, employee background screening, business intelligence, due diligence, compliance solutions and other professional investigative research solutions provider. CRI Group has the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Its global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are, the company has the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. For more on our Risk Management solutions just check out our brochure:

View Risk Management Solutions Brochure

Other contacts:

RAZA SHAH Business Development and Marketing Executive | t: +92 300 501 2632 | e: raza.shah@crigroup.com
AYESHA SYED Lead Auditor | t: +971 4 358 9884 | e: ayesha.s@abacgroup.com

Corporate Fraud and Corruption: affect on UK businesses in the 2021

CRI Group and its ABAC® Center of Excellence were featured in Financier Worldwide’s InDepth Feature: Corporate fraud and corruption 2021. In this edition, CRI Group’s CEO Zafar Anjum and ABAC®’s Scheme Manager Huma Khalid talk about how corporate fraud and corruption affect businesses not only in the UK and UAE, but across the globe, and provide solutions and insights for businesses to become better protected from corporate fraud, bribery and corruption.

Q. To what extent have you seen a notable rise in the level of corporate fraud, bribery and corruption uncovered in the UK?

A. The COVID-19 pandemic has created increased opportunities for fraud worldwide. The UK is not immune, unfortunately, and such a disruptive event as the pandemic increases the likelihood that normal safeguards and risk management controls can be bypassed and subverted. There has been an increase in reported fraud and corruption cases over the past year. A survey of fraud experts by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in August 2020 showed that 77 percent were seeing an increase in fraud. Perhaps not surprisingly, cyber fraud is the fastest-growing problem area, but there has also been an uptick in unemployment fraud. This is bad news in the UK, where fraud is our most common crime, costing the country £190bn annually, according to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Q. Have there been any legal and regulatory changes implemented in the UK designed to combat fraud and corruption? What penalties do companies face for failure to comply?

A. There is proposed legislation, supported by the secretary of state of the UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, that would increase accountability for corporations that produce falsified financial statements. This includes a provision that would require company directors to personally sign off on their corporation’s financial statements, under penalty of fines and possible prison time. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US, the penalty for falsely certifying such statements is steep: up to 20 years in prison and up to $5m in fines, and the UK is looking at similar measures to step up its fight against fraud and corruption. The UK also recently approved the formation of an audit, reporting and governance authority (ARGA) that should come into force within the next two or three years. Accordingly, the UK is taking a stronger stance against fraud going forward.

Q. In your opinion, do regulators in the UK have sufficient resources to enforce the law in this area? Are they making inroads?

A. Combatting fraud is never straightforward. When looking at progress in detecting and preventing fraud, it sometimes feels like a question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. For example, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) brought 13 fraud defendants to trial in 2019 and 2020, with a 95 percent fouryear success rate by case. Many of these represent large frauds, and they are meaningful wins, but how many more fraudsters are out there undiscovered? Other bodies, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), among others, also have key roles to play in investigating fraud, but a considerable amount of fraud is still investigated and prosecuted at the local level. It is important for leaders in the UK to know what resources law enforcement have and where they need training and support in the fight against fraud.

Q. If a company finds itself subject to a government investigation or dawn raid, how should it respond?

A. Any investigation, and especially a raid, can be an incredibly stressful time for a company and its employees. The important thing is to not panic – the investigators have a job to do, and the sooner they get to the truth of the situation, the better for everyone. Companies should direct their management and their employees to cooperate fully, while also engaging legal counsel to properly protect the corporation from future litigation. If fraud is detected, it is a criminal matter and the company should make a good faith effort to work with prosecutors and regulators, while making sure to document all control measures and prior steps taken to manage fraud risk. Having a track record of meeting compliance requirements and having proper internal controls in place at the time fraud occurs could have a mitigating effect in terms of potential prosecution and penalties down the road.

Q. What role are whistleblowers playing in the fight against corporate fraud and corruption? How important is it to train staff to identify and report potentially fraudulent activity?

A. Employees are a company’s first line of defence against fraud and corruption. But training them to recognise the red flags of fraud is only half of the process. The company must also implement a reporting system that is anonymous and easy to use, so that employees are encouraged to report any suspicions. Then, the company must follow through and fully investigate any reports that do come in. If it does not, whistleblowers will believe that combatting fraud and corruption is not a corporate priority, and the tips will stop coming in. How important are those tips? According to the ACFE, they are by far the highest detection method for fraud, well above audits and other means. The company should communicate that a whistleblower hotline or online reporting system is available, and that there is a zero-tolerance policy for any type of retaliation against whistleblowers. Over time, the tips will come in.

Q. What advice can you offer to companies on conducting an internal investigation to follow up on suspicions of fraud or corruption?

A. Investigations can be challenging, and they require expertise. For example, there are rules for collecting and handling evidence, including physical evidence and witness statements, that must be followed for such evidence to be admissible in court. There are also laws in the UK dealing with privacy and the rights of the accused. The bottom line is that a company already dealing with a potentially costly and damaging fraud scenario should not risk adding more legal trouble through a faulty investigation. Hire experts who deal with corporate crime and specialise in fraud and corruption cases. Like any other area of expertise, they will have the knowledge and resources to help proceed with an investigation and lead it to the most favourable outcome for your company. If you already have anti-fraud professionals on staff, let them take the lead, but provide outside resources as needed.

Q. What general steps can companies take to proactively prevent corruption and fraud within their organisation?

A. A fraud prevention strategy has many different elements, and the sooner companies implement them, the sooner they can begin to work together in a proactive way to prevent fraud. Mandating employee training, such as ISO 37001 ABMS, having an ethical code of conduct signed by every member of staff, providing regular and surprise audits, and implementing a fraud reporting system are all effective ways to help prevent and detect fraud and corruption. None of these methods is strong enough on its own to properly protect organisations. But together, they can be very effective. It is also important to set a ‘tone at the top’, from ownership, directors and management on down, that fraud will not be tolerated. Anti-fraud controls only work if the company sees them through and thoroughly investigates every report. When fraud is confirmed, any perpetrators should be terminated and potentially prosecuted, sending a message of zerotolerance.

 

Meet Zafar ZAFAR ANJUM, Group Chief Executive Officer

Zafar Anjum is founder and group CEO at CRI Group, and its ABAC Center of Excellence. He uses his extensive knowledge and expertise in creating stable and secure networks across challenging global markets. For organisations needing large project management, security, safeguard and real-time compliance applications, Mr Anjum is the assurance expert of choice for industry professionals.

Corporate Research and Investigations | t: +44 (0)7588 454 959 | e: zanjum@crigroup.com

Meet HUMA KHALID,  Scheme Manager

Huma Khalid, as scheme manager, is responsible for leading ABAC. Ms Khalid’s responsibilities include planning and overseeing all aspects of the ABAC programme, which include certification and training. Additionally, she oversees the compliance department for the implementation, management and internal audit of CRI Group’s and ABAC compliance programmes

ABAC Center of Excellence Limited | t: +44 (0)777 652 4355 | e: huma.k@abacgroup.com

About CRI Group

Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk Management, Employee Background Screening, Business IntelligenceDue Diligence, Compliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 37301:2021 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.

Other contacts:

RAZA SHAH Business Development and Marketing Executive | t: +92 300 501 2632 | e: raza.shah@crigroup.com
AYESHA SYED Lead Auditor | t: +971 4 358 9884 | e: ayesha.s@abacgroup.com

Cyber security: how to maintain GDPR compliance?

The European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in 2018. The GDPR was a response to massive worldwide data breaches that were undermining the trust and security of private citizens whose personal information was at stake. As this data was exposed by both hackers and, in some cases, simply through poor security measures, governments of the EU felt it was time to create a strong piece of governance to bolster protection. While the initial rollout of GDPR held some uncertainty and unknowns for organisations subject to its guidelines, there is now a much clearer picture of how its standards apply. The punishments for being caught out of compliance can be severe: Violators of the GDPR may be fined up to €20 million or up to 4 percent of the annual worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year in case of an enterprise, whichever is greater.

Cybersecurity is a priority for the management

Even with extremely high fines and stringent requirements, GDPR violations and data breaches have been skyrocketing across the world. In 2020, the overall increase of fraudulent activities has been detected, based on ACFE’s “Fraud in the Wake of COVID-19: Benchmarking Report”: 77% of survey participants have seen an increase in the overall level of fraud as of August, compared to 68% who had observed an increase in May. Earlier we wrote how the COVID-19 crisis triggered fraudulent activities and what can businesses do to support anti-fraud movements in their organisations and to strengthen their immunity to fraud. However, cyber-attacks are on the rise – the survey by the gov.uk continues to show that cybersecurity breaches are a serious threat to all types of businesses and charities. 39% of businesses and 26% of charities reported having cybersecurity breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. Like previous years, this is higher among medium businesses (65%), large businesses (64%) and high-income charities (51%).

The study suggests that the risk level is potentially higher than ever under COVID-19 and that businesses are finding it harder to administer cybersecurity measures during the pandemic: 35% of businesses compared to 40% last year are now deploying security monitoring tools. This reduction suggests that these organisations might simply be less aware than before of the breaches and attacks their staff are facing.

However, among those that have identified breaches or attacks, around 27% of businesses experience them at least once a week. The most common by far are phishing attacks (83%, and 79% in charities), followed by impersonation (for 27% and 23%). Based on a survey by the gov.uk, despite COVID-19 stretching many organisation’s cybersecurity teams to their limits, cybersecurity remains a priority for management boards. But it has not necessarily become a higher priority under the pandemic. Three-quarters (77%) of businesses say cybersecurity is a high priority for their directors or senior managers, while seven in ten charities (68%) say this of their trustees.

The most notable data breaches

In the climate where organisations are putting more emphasis on strengthening their online security systems, there is no shortage of data breaches or GDPR violations. Our experts have noticed and shortlisted a few most notable cases in any order for you to be aware:

1. Booking.com

The very recent case, when travel booking website Booking.com has been hit with a  €475,000 ($560,000) fine after failing to report a data breach within the time period mandated by the GDPR. It happened back in 2018 when telephone scammers targeted 40 employees at various hotels in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The hackers were able to get login creations for the booking system and to access the personal details of more than 4000 customers who booked hotel rooms via booking.com. The scammers exposed the credit card details of 283 customers, and in 97 cases the CVV code was also compromised. Based on GDPR, the data breach must be reported within 72 hours. Booking.com was late for 22 days (!) to report the breach to the Dutch Data Protection Authority and was issued a fine in April 2021, as reported by Forbes.

2. Twitter

Another company that was late to report the security flaw is Twitter – it was discovered in December 2018 but the social media giant did not report it to Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) until the following month. As a result, Twitter has been told to pay a €450,000 GDPR fine by Ireland’s data regulator for failing to report a 2018 data breach in the legally required timeframe. The DPC also determined that Twitter failed to adequately document the breach, another requirement under GDPR.

3. Vodafone

The firm that has been warned or fined smaller amounts on at least 50 occasions between January 2018 and February 2020, is in the news again: the Spanish data protection authority has fined Vodafone €8.15 million (approximately £7 million) for aggressive telemarketing tactics and repeated data protection failures. The fine was issued as a result of an investigation that was prompted by hundreds of complaints, with the regulator discovering a system that held up to 4.5 million contact lists purchased from third parties without user consent.

4. Facebook

And another social media giant – Facebook. Ireland’s data protection watchdog is demanding answers from Facebook over the release of records on 533 million people that appeared to stem from the social media site. As reported in April 2021, a spokesman for the Data Protection Commission (DPC) – which regulates Facebook in the European Union – said “a dataset, appearing to be sourced from Facebook, has appeared on a hacking website this weekend for free and contains records of 533 million individuals.”

5. H&M

The Data Protection Authority of Hamburg, Germany, fined clothing retailer H&M €35,258,707.95 — the second-largest GDPR fine ever imposed. H&M’s GDPR violations involved the internal monitoring of employees. After employees took vacation or sick leave, they were required to attend a return-to-work meeting. Some of these meetings were recorded and accessible to over 50 H&M managers. It has violated the GDPR’s principle of data minimisation — don’t process personal information, particularly sensitive data about people’s health and beliefs, unless you need to for a specific purpose.

6. Google

The biggest penalty (€50 million) was issued to Google for its alleged failure to provide notice in an easily accessible form, using clear and plain language, when users configure their Android mobile devices and create Google accounts, and obtain users’ valid consent to process their personal data for ad personalisation purposes. 

COMPLIANCE & ETHICS HOTLINES, REPORT NOW

How to maintain GDPR compliance

What can we learn from these case studies? Maintaining GDPR compliance is a complex process, and requires a lot of diligent work. At CRI Group, we recommend looking at it as a part of your risk management strategies, together with your compliance policies and procedures.

To help you with maintaining compliance with GDPR, our integrity due diligence experts created the following top 10 GDPR best practices for any business or entity that deals with collecting, storing or using personal information:

1. Employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

It is a GDPR requirement that entities who carry out regular and systematic monitoring of individuals on a large scale, or large-scale processing of certain special categories of data, have an assigned DPO. It is also recommended, however, for all other entities to help ensure data security. While the GDPR does not specifically list the necessary training or qualifications of a DPO, the regulation does require the DPO to have “expert knowledge of data protection law and practices” (Digital Guardian, 2019). Implement thorough background screening processes and make sure they are trained and qualified to be your DPO.

2. Train your employees

Ensure that all personnel are aware of the GDPR and your organisation’s commitment to compliance. Make sure that all leaders, and especially key personnel charged with collecting, handling or storing data, understand their responsibilities under GDPR. Make date protection training a regular part of your employee curriculum.

3. Confirm the legality of your data collection

GDPR requires that you have a legal basis to collect personal data. For most businesses, the following are the most likely to be applicable:

  • The information is necessary to perform a contract between the organisation and the individual;
  • You have a legal obligation to process the data (such as a court order);
  • The organisation has a legitimate interest in collecting and processing the data – in other words, there needs to be a relationship and business reason to collect the date (it cannot be random);
  • The individual has provided direct consent to the processing of the data.

4. Maintain thorough records

For larger organisations (more than 250 employees), GDPR requires that records of data collection and processing be maintained. Again, this is also a best practice for smaller organisations, as well. It can help establish that the organisation is dutifully complying with the data protection principles in GDPR. Take inventory and make a record of the data you have collected and are storing to date. Create a detailed matrix to understand what types of data you are holding, where/how it is collected, how and where it is held, and whether it is still needed. Based on this information, you can also develop a data-retention policy to govern how long personal data is kept and stored. Keeping data on file longer than needed is a liability, and serves no business purpose.

5. Establish consent policies for data

For some of your records, consent is your lawful basis for holding it. Under GDPR, it is no longer acceptable to assume consent in your collected data, or treat silence as consent. Create clear and unambiguous consent forms for your data collection that demonstrate adherence to GDPR principles. And remember, under GDPR, you must make it a simple process for an individual to withdraw their consent at any time.

6. Perform due diligence on third-parties

Under GDPR, your organisation is responsible if third-party partners collect, store or manage data for your organisation. You must ensure their compliance with GDPR as if it is your own since they are responsible for your data. This is the time to update your contracts with them to include compliance measures, as needed. It is also important that you review their control systems and their data handling processes. They must be comprehensive and meet all of the GDPR requirements to keep data secure. CRI Group’s third-party risk management experts can help you conduct effective reviews of your partners and their processes.

7. Be responsive

Under GDPR, your organisation must respond to requests from individuals whose data you have collected and/or are storing. These requests are spelt out as individuals rights in regards to their personal data and they include the following:

  • Right to be informed about what data is collected and why;
  • Right of access to data that has been collected;
  • Right to rectification/correction of inaccurate data;
  • Right to erasure of data (“right to be forgotten”);
  • Right to restrict processing of personal data;
  • Right to data portability;
  • Right to object to use of data; and
  • Right not to be subject to automated decision making, including profiling.

Have a process in place to timely respond to requests and provide data when requested in order to stay in compliance.

8. Have written policies in place

Develop your internal policies in regards to GDPR and how you protect personal data, and communicate them across your organisation. Take special note to spell out policies on data retention, cross-border processing of data, and how you collect and handle data for persons under the age of 16, as GDPR has special requirements in regards to children’s data.

9. Conduct risk assessments

GDPR requires Data Protection Impact Assessments in certain cases. These assessments measure your organisation’s ability to protect personal data and risks associated with that protection. If your data processing is considered high-risk, uses new technology, or deals in large-scale processing of data in certain categories, the assessments are required – but for any organisation, they are recommended. Data protection experts at an outside firm like CRI Group can help you prepare robust risk assessments and follow-up plans to address their results.

10. Be prepared for a breach

A worst-case scenario in data security is a breach that exposes personal information. Under the steps above, your organisation should be well-positioned to prevent or limit any breach to your data security. However, you should always have a contingency plan in place to immediately respond to a breach should it occur. Understand that GDPR requires that the applicable EU data protection supervisory authority be notified within 72 hours of a breach. Gone are the days where a company can announce it weeks or even months after the fact. Be ready to notify the affected individuals that their data has been compromised, so that they can take the appropriate steps to respond.

Organisations don’t like to think about the impact of a data breach – but major cases have pushed governments to act in the public’s interest. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the EU, where the GDPR is now the governing policy for organisations that deal with individuals’ personal data. By being proactive with the steps above, your organisation can be better prepared and maintain compliance with the GDPR. Most importantly, you will have the confidence and trust of your consumers through effective best practices in handling and protecting their data. CRI Group’s experts are here to help. Contact us today so that we can walk you through the steps of GDPR compliance. If you have any further questions or interest in implementing compliance solutions, please contact us.

Who is CRI Group?

Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk Management, Employee Background Screening, Business IntelligenceDue Diligence, Compliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 37301:2021 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.

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CRI, the only company with BS102000 & BS7858 certifications in Middle East

When it comes to providing information security, financial audits, risk assessments, background checks, due diligence and a wide range of anti-fraud related services, maintaining the highest levels of training and expertise is an absolute must. That’s why CRI Group achieves critical certifications from the British Standards Institute (BSI), the National Association of Background Screeners (NAPBS) and other preeminent groups in the security and anti-fraud field as part of the company’s commitment to its clients. 

What is BS7858? The BS7858:2019 standard, “Screening of Individuals Working in a Secure Environment – Code of Practice,” places emphasis on the risk assessment of secure environment workers. The code focuses on the need for tighter controls over the pre-employment screening – and periodic re-screening – of individuals, who in their positions could potentially benefit from illicit personal gain, become compromised, or take advantage of other opportunities for creating breaches of confidentiality, trust or safety. Read more here.

CRI Group is the first and only investigative research company in the Middle East to receive the certifications BS102000:2013, Code of Practice for the Provision of Investigative Services, and BS7858:2019, screening of individuals working in a secure environment, from internationally recognised training and certification body BSI. CRI Group also holds other BSI certifications (more on those within this article).

Founded in 1901, BSI is the UK national standards body that works with thousands of organisations in more than 150 countries. BSI is accredited by 20 local and international bodies. We sat down with CRI Group President and CEO Zafar I Anjum, CFE, to discuss these certifications and what they mean:

CRI Group is the only firm of its kind in the Middle East to hold the BS102000:2013 and BS7858:2019 certifications. What led you to embark on gaining these and other certifications from BSI?

Anjum: Just a few years ago, we announced that CRI Group would be engaging BSI for training and certification on many levels, and these and other certifications are direct results of that initiative. Earning multiple certifications from a distinguished standards body like BSI is a mark of pride for us as it demonstrates expertise in our core services.

BS102000:2013 is the “Code of Practice for the Provision of Investigative Services.” What does this mean?

Anjum: This certifies CRI Group’s proficiency in providing services regarding fraud risk assessment and investigations, forensic accounting, intellectual property (IP) investigations, due diligence and background investigations, debt collections, corporate security consulting and investigation, pre-and post-employment screening and fraud and crime investigations.

BS7858:2019 denotes “Security Screening of Individuals Employed in a Security Environment.” Please tell us more about this certification.

Anjum: This recognises CRI Group’s expertise in screening services including identity checks, financial checks, employment checks and criminal records checks. CRI Group implemented this standard with regular external audits conducted by BSI and adhered to recommendations specifically vetting and conducting employment background screening of security personnel seeking affiliations with security companies.

How does this relate to CRI Group’s EmploySmart program?

Anjum: Background screening professionals must be on the cutting edge of industry technology and resources – while also staying educated on the changing laws and regulations that govern the field. At CRI Group, we are proud to provide the most extensive and thorough background screening services as part of our EmploySmart program.

CRI Group also holds the certifications ISO/IEC 27001:2013, Information Security Management System and you are a credentialed NAPBS (National Association of Professional Background Screeners) Research Provider. Congratulations on these distinguished credentials!

Anjum: Thank you. We are pleased to have our expertise in these areas recognised by BSI, NAPBS and other leading bodies, and we will continue to strive to provide the top level of service for businesses to help them prevent and detect fraud.

BS7858:2019, a new way to mitigate employee risk during COVID-19

The far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has affected virtually every business and economic sector worldwide, and depending on the global region, has hampered (on various levels) the ability to conduct proper and thorough background screening investigations. In the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, the countrywide lockdowns forced leaders to close sites and send their workforce home. Many are having to learn how to manged people working from home (WFH) or remotely for the first time. The previous concerns about productivity, privacy and protecting sensitive information only grew more with the practice of WFH. They highlighted the vital importance of pre-employment background screening and background investigations. BS7858:2019: the revised standard for screening individuals working in secure environments offers a complete solution.

Find out how you can mitigate employee risk during this pandemic with BS7858:2019 

The revised BS7858:2019 standard enables organisations to demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding their businesses, employees, customers and information utilising widely accepted methods that focus on risk assessment and top-down management involvement in the company’s employment policies and practices. In establishing policies and practices around the standard, organisations can show that they place a high value on hiring individuals who possess integrity. Organisations can then task them with responsibilities designed to keep their co-workers, customers and information safe from the negative forces that have become more prevalent in today’s ever-changing COVID-19 world.

BS7858:2019, everything you need to know and more!

The price of a bad hire has far-reaching consequences for any business, including productivity loss, decreased employee morale, risks to employee safety and increased exposure to costly negligent hiring claims and potentially devastating litigation. The premise behind the standard is to safeguard employers from bad or fraudulent hires. Cases of organisations that forego conducting due diligence on a new hire – especially a hire with high-risk exposure – often end badly for those organisations. At CRI Group we know how important is your background screening to your company’s success and to give you an idea of what is new we have produced this playbook detailing the differences between BS7858:2012 standard and the new BS7858:2019 standard.

Download your “BS7858:2019, everything you need to know and more!” playbook here…

Managing your people through COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is undeniable affecting the world. And the situation is changing at an hourly rate as we go into a second global lockdown. Businesses are having to adapt quickly in order to survive, i.e. cutting steps in their hiring process, and no-one knows how this will play out. However, there are ways you can mitigate the impact, learn how with this FREE ebook. Taken as a whole, this ebook is the perfect primer for any HR professional, business leader and companies looking to avoid employee background screening risks. It provides the tools and knowledge needed to effectively stay ahead of COVID-19. Read the answers to the following questions:

  • How to turn the tide’ on coronavirus crisis?;
  • COVID-19 Action point checklist;
  • Background Screening: Essential Checks;
  • 6 steps for good practice in connection with COVID-19;
  • 11 Steps to Reduce Personnel Costs;
  • COVID-19 General advice;
  • How to remove any danger to your business during COVID-19;
  • … and more!

Download your “Employee Screening during COVID-19: everything you need to know and more! FREE ebook here!

Frequently asked questions about background checks

Get answers to frequently asked questions about background checks/screening cost, guidelines, check references etc. This eBook is a compilation of all of the background screening related questions you ever needed answers to:

  • Does a candidate have to give consent to process a background check/screening?
  • How long does it take to conduct a background check?
  • When should I conduct pre-employment checks?
  • How often should I screen employees?
  • How to collect references and what to ask?
  • How much does it cost to conduct background checks?
  • What is the difference between employment history verification and employment reference?
  • How do I check on entitlement to work?
  • How to conduct identity checks?
  • What will a financial regulatory check show?
  • Is it possible to identify a conflict of interest during checks?
  • What is a bankruptcy check?
  • What about directorships and shareholding search?
  • Can I have access to a criminal watch list?
  • Anti-money laundering check?
  • Can we conduct FACIS (fraud and abuse control information system) searches?
  • … and MORE!

Taken as a whole, is the perfect primer for any HR professional, business leader and companies looking to avoid employee background screening risks. It provides the tools and knowledge needed to make the right decisions.[/vc_column_text][accordion_father][accordion_son title=”Meet our CEO” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]Zafar I. Anjum, is Group Chief Executive Officer of CRI Group (www.crigroup.com), a global supplier of investigative, forensic accounting, business due diligence and employee background screening services for some of the world’s leading business organisations.  Headquartered in London (with significant presence throughout the region) and licensed by the Dubai International Financial Centre-DIFC, the Qatar Financial Center-QFC, and the Abu Dhabi Global Market-ADGM, CRI Group safeguards businesses by establishing the legal compliance, financial viability, and integrity levels of outside partners, suppliers and customers seeking to affiliate with your business. CRI Group maintains offices in UAE, Pakistan, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, China, USA, and the United Kingdom.

Contact CRI Group to learn more about its 3PRM-Certified™ third-party risk management strategy program and discover an effective and proactive approach to mitigating the risks associated with corruption, bribery, financial crimes and other dangerous risks posed by third-party partnerships.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Zafar Anjum, MSc, MS, CFE, CII, MICA, Int. Dip. (Fin. Crime) | CRI Group Chief Executive Officer

37th Floor, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AA United Kingdom

t: +44 207 8681415 | m: +44 7588 454959 | e: zanjum@crigroup.com

About CRI Group 

Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk Management, Employee Background Screening, Business IntelligenceDue Diligence, Compliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS102000:2013 and BS7858:2019 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 19600:2014 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.

Q&A: Corporate Fraud and Corruption in UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the 21 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.  However, UAE corporate fraud and corruption still prevails as UAE is just one of many enablers of global corruption, crime, and illicit financial flows. Addressing the emirate’s role presents anti-corruption practitioners, law enforcement agencies, and policymakers with incredibly complex challenges. Read the answers to the following questions:

  • To what extent are boards and senior executives in UAE taking proactive steps to reduce incidences of fraud and corruption from surfacing within their company?
  • Have there been any significant legal and regulatory developments relevant to corporate fraud and corruption in the UAE over the past 12-18 months?
  • When suspicions of fraud or corruption arise within a firm, what steps should be taken to evaluate and resolve the potential problem?
  • Do you believe companies are paying enough attention to employee awareness, such as training staff to identify and report potential fraud and misconduct?
  • How has the renewed focus on encouraging and protecting whistleblowers changed the way companies manage and respond to reports of potential wrongdoing?
  • And much more…

Q. To what extent are boards and senior executives in UAE taking proactive steps to reduce incidences of fraud and corruption from surfacing within their company?

Anjum: High-profile corruption scandals have driven home the seriousness of fraud and corruption, and the turmoil that can engulf a company because of it. Organisations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and in the Middle East region as a whole, understand that being proactive against risk can be a matter of survival, especially in a competitive environment, but it is more than that. Today, being forward-thinking and proactive when it comes to fraud and corruption can actually foster organisational growth. Business grows an average of 3 per cent faster where corruption is low, according to the World Bank. And more organisations are engaging in trusted certifications like ISO 37001 for anti-bribery management because having that certification tells customers, vendors, third parties and employees that the company places a high priority on fraud training and prevention.

Q. Have there been any significant legal and regulatory developments relevant to corporate fraud and corruption in the UAE over the past 12-18 months?

Anjum: In January 2017, UAE president Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan approved the highly anticipated Anti-Commercial Fraud Law, which strengthens protections of intellectual property rights (IPR) and imposes stricter penalties on counterfeiters. Counterfeiting and adulterated goods, along with intellectual property (IP) theft, are severe problems in the Middle East, propagated by unscrupulous inland and free zone traders. And while fraud and corruption still plague the region, the UAE continues to lead the Middle East in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perception Index for its strides in addressing fraud risk and areas of concern, including bribery and corruption. With that said, experts have noted that businesses and governments in the UAE, and the Middle East, on the whole, face increasing threats of cybercrime, with a need for continuously updated laws and regulations to keep pace with this ever-evolving fraud threat.

Q. When suspicions of fraud or corruption arise within a firm, what steps should be taken to evaluate and resolve the potential problem?

Anjum: Fraud allegations, from bribery to embezzlement, should be treated as a very serious issue. When suspicion arises at an organisation, business leaders and the board should bring in expert help. Professional investigators have years of training in evidence collection and interviewing, and their role is to establish the facts of the case. The key to a proper investigation is to not approach it with a preconceived notion of how it will conclude. It is critical to remember that companies do not get a second chance when conducting a fraud investigation. It has to be done right the first time to reach a successful conclusion.

Q. Do you believe companies are paying enough attention to employee awareness, such as training staff to identify and report potential fraud and misconduct?

Anjum: Employees are the eyes and ears of your company, and the first line of defence against fraud and corruption. Many organisations are getting the message and making employee training and awareness of key parts of their fraud prevention programme. One key way to do this is by engaging in ISO 37001, which certifies that an organisation has implemented reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent bribery. The certification process involves a training module for employees. It stresses the importance that such training should continue as mandatory for all staff, and be provided on an annual basis – if not more frequently. If employees do not know what constitutes fraud, or how to recognise it, organisations face a heightened risk of being victimised.

Q. How has the renewed focus on encouraging and protecting whistleblowers changed the way companies manage and respond to reports of potential wrongdoing?

Anjum: Statistics from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) show that most fraud is discovered by tips, which often come from employees, vendors and others connected to the organisation in some way, and the only way to get those tips is to provide a culture that supports and encourages whistleblowers. That is why having an anonymous reporting system, and communicating it to employees is a critical part of any fraud and risk prevention strategy. But for it to work, employees have to know what type of behaviour should be reported. This is where a training protocol like ISO 37001 comes in. It provides a curriculum that helps employees recognise the red flags of fraud, and also communicates how they can report fraud when they see it.

Q. Could you outline the main fraud and corruption risks that can emerge from third-party relationships? In your opinion, do firms pay sufficient attention to due diligence at the outset of a new business relationship?

Anjum: Many companies pay lip service to due diligence, but when an opportunity arises to make a major move, such as a merger, acquisition or new partnership, the interest of growing the business trumps a more cautious approach. This may be changing, however, as more organisations in the UAE and elsewhere put established due diligence procedures in place that cannot be circumvented by overeager business leaders. This is important because the risks are great.

Q. What advice can you offer to companies on implementing and maintaining a robust fraud and corruption risk management process, with appropriate internal controls?

Anjum: Begin with a thorough fraud risk assessment that examines every area of your organisation. This should be conducted by experts and used to gauge your overall threat level, as well as help you create a plan for moving forward by exposing a weakness that could lead to fraud risk and compliance issues. When creating your fraud and corruption risk management process, be sure to include hiring procedures, including thorough background checks, due diligence for any new mergers, acquisitions and partnerships, regular schedule audits and implement an anonymous reporting system. Build-in review processes that track the effectiveness of your controls, including how tips were handled and ultimately resolved. Finally, try to think like a fraudster. Consider any way that an employee, vendor or even customer might try to take advantage of your organisation. You might be surprised at what you find.

 

Speak up – report any illegal, unethical, or improper behaviour

If you find yourself in an ethical dilemma or suspect inappropriate or illegal conduct, and you feel uncomfortable reporting through normal channels of communication, or wish to raise the issue anonymously, use CRI Group’s Compliance Hotline. The Compliance Hotline is a secure and confidential reporting channel managed by an independent provider. When reporting a concern in good faith, you will be protected by CRI Group’s Non-Retaliation Policy.[/vc_column_text][accordion_father][accordion_son title=”Meet our CEO” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]Zafar I. Anjum, is Group Chief Executive Officer of CRI Group (www.crigroup.com), a global supplier of investigative, forensic accounting, business due diligence and employee background screening services for some of the world’s leading business organisations.  Headquartered in London (with significant presence throughout the region) and licensed by the Dubai International Financial Centre-DIFC, the Qatar Financial Center-QFC, and the Abu Dhabi Global Market-ADGM, CRI Group safeguards businesses by establishing the legal compliance, financial viability, and integrity levels of outside partners, suppliers and customers seeking to affiliate with your business. CRI Group maintains offices in UAE, Pakistan, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, China, USA, and the United Kingdom.

Contact CRI Group to learn more about its 3PRM-Certified™ third-party risk management strategy program and discover an effective and proactive approach to mitigating the risks associated with corruption, bribery, financial crimes and other dangerous risks posed by third-party partnerships.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Zafar Anjum, MSc, MS, CFE, CII, MICA, Int. Dip. (Fin. Crime) | CRI Group Chief Executive Officer

37th Floor, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AA United Kingdom

t: +44 207 8681415 | m: +44 7588 454959 | e: zanjum@crigroup.com[/accordion_son][accordion_son title=”About CRI Group” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk Management, Employee Background Screening, Business IntelligenceDue Diligence, Compliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 19600:2014 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.[/accordion_son][accordion_son title=”2018 annual reviews” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]Download 2018 annual reviews by Mr. Zafar Anjum, CEO, and Ms. Fatima Farrukh, Compliance professional at CRI Group.

Click here to download the review of UAE (Mr. Zafar Anjum, CEO at CRI Group)
Click here to download the review of UK (Mr. Zafar Anjum, CEO at CRI Group)
Click here to download the review of Pakistan (Ms. Fatima Farrukh, Compliance professional at CRI Group)

CRI Group was included in the 2018 Annual Review: UAE Corporate Fraud & Corruption, published by Financier Worldwide Magazine. The above is an updated version of the Financier Worldwide reprint.

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Have you done your Corporate Compliance Programs Gap Analysis (HEBA) yet?

Prove that your business is ethical. Complete our FREE Highest Ethical Business Assessment (HEBA) and evaluate your current Corporate Compliance Program. Find out if your organisation’s compliance program is in line with worldwide Compliance, Business Ethics, Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Frameworks. Let our experts prepare a complimentary gap analysis (worth USD 4500/ £3370) of your compliance program to evaluate if it meets “adequate procedures” requirements under UK Bribery Act, DOJ’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs Guidance and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

What’s a Gap Analysis, and why do I need it?

In management literature, Gap analysis involves the comparison of actual performance with potential or desired performance. If your organisation does not make the best use of current resources or forgoes investment in capital or technology, it is likely to perform below the desired goal. Our Gap analysis involves determining, if your current set of internal policies and procedures do comply with laws, rules, and regulations to uphold your business reputation and how can you improve current capabilities difference to meet current industry and regulatory requirements.

Our HEBA survey is designed to evaluate your compliance with adequate procedures to prevent bribery and corruption across the organisation. Acting as a benchmarking, the gap analysis will allow you to understand what is the general expectation of performance within your industry and compare that expectation with your organisation’s current level of performance. At this level, the gap analysis will allow you to highlight any gap and focus on ways to address it and improve your Corporate Compliance Program.

Highest Ethical Business Assessment: Evaluating Adequate Compliance, Business Ethics, Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Framework

This survey is monitored and evaluated by qualified ABAC® professionals with Business Ethics, Legal and Compliance background. The questions are open-ended to encourage a qualitative analysis of your Compliance Program and to facilitate the gap analysis process. If you aren’t performing gap analyses within your company, you may have a more significant gap than you think.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”TAKE THE GAP ANALYSIS” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fshare.hsforms.com%2F1cjtWwMG9R6alydRIueLL5Q1hq89||target:%20_blank|”]The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete.[/vc_column_text]

Are you addressing corporate compliance?

  1. Implementing written policies, procedures, and standards of conduct;
  2. Designating a compliance officer and compliance committee;
  3. Conducting effective training and education;
  4. Developing effective lines of communication;
  5. Conducting internal monitoring and auditing;
  6. Enforcing standards through well-publicized disciplinary guidelines;
  7. Responding promptly to detected offences and undertaking corrective action; and
  8. Annual reviews.

Each of these elements requires a robust, organisation-wide enforcement and documentation. Corporate compliance programs are most successful when they’re integrated into the management of your practice–creating a culture of compliance within your practice is your best bet to avoid any regulatory breaches and fines!

Why is it important?

Corporate compliance should be an essential part of your business operations, regardless industry or size. How does your business manage compliance and mitigate risk? Taking preventative measures can feel like a hassle upfront, but it can save your organisation untold costs in the long run. Corporate compliance violations can result in fines, penalties, lawsuits, loss of reputation, and more. Keep your business from learning the lesson the hard way.  If you’re ready to take control of compliance and protect your business from risk, learn more about CRI Group today and discover how we can help your corporate compliance program.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Start developing a compliance program today.” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fcrigroup.com%2Fcontact-us%2F||target:%20_blank|”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″]

Stay updated on corporate compliance

Subscribe to our newsletter to get more content like this straight to your inbox.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_empty_space][vc_btn title=”Subscribe now” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.crigroup.com%2Fnewsletter-subscription%2F%20_blank||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][accordion_father activetabbg=”#ffffff” activetabclr=”#1e73be”][accordion_son title=”About CRI Group” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk ManagementEmployee Background ScreeningBusiness IntelligenceDue DiligenceCompliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management SystemsISO 19600:2014 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.[/accordion_son][accordion_son title=”Speak up – report any illegal, unethical, or improper behaviour!” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]

If you find yourself in an ethical dilemma or suspect inappropriate or illegal conduct, and you feel uncomfortable reporting through normal channels of communication, or wish to raise the issue anonymously, use CRI Group’s Compliance Hotline. The Compliance Hotline is a secure and confidential reporting channel managed by an independent provider. When reporting a concern in good faith, you will be protected by CRI Group’s Non-Retaliation Policy. COMPLIANCE HOTLINE

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ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work, 2nd update

ILO (International Labour Organization) has updated “ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Second edition”. Since the first edition, the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated in terms of intensity and expanded its global reach. According to ILO, full or partial lockdown measures are now affecting almost 2.7 billion workers, representing around 81% of the world’s workforce. Leaders and businesses across a range of economic sectors are facing difficult decisions, as COVID-19 is changing their business. There are many cases where COVID-19 has prompted innovative leadership in an attempt to avoid catastrophic losses, and a potential end to operations and or even solvency.

COVID-19 crisis is leaving millions of workers vulnerable to income loss and layoffs. According to ILO new edition, employment contraction has already begun on a large scale in many countries. Changes in working hours (which reflect both layoffs and other temporary reductions) reflect the new reality of the current labour market situation. As of 1 April 2020, the ILO’s estimates that global working hours will decline by 6.7% in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. 

The ILO estimates that 1.25 billion workers, representing almost 38% of the global workforce, are employed in sectors such as retail trade, accommodation, food services, and manufacturing. Dues to Covid-19 crisis these are sectors that are now facing a severe decline in output and consequently a dramatic impact on the world’s workforce. The workforce in high risk of displacement will experience greater challenges in regaining their livelihoods during the recovery period. 

>Read the full report here!

ILO discusses how policy responses are critical now in order to provide immediate relief to workers and enterprises and protect livelihoods and economically viable businesses. According to the ILO report, the final tally of annual job losses will depend on how much longer will COVID-19 continue to impact the world and whatever measures taken to mitigate its impact. Stay updated, subscribe for more insights like these

Managing your people through COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is undeniable affecting the world. And the situation is changing at an hourly rate as we go into a second global lockdown. Businesses are having to adapt quickly to survive, i.e. cutting steps in their hiring process, and no-one knows how this will play out. However, there are ways you can mitigate the impact, learn how with this FREE ebook. Taken as a whole, this ebook is the perfect primer for any HR professional, business leader and companies looking to avoid employee background screening risks. It provides the tools and knowledge needed to stay ahead of COVID-19 effectively. Read the answers to the following questions:

  • How to turn the tide’ on coronavirus crisis?;
  • COVID-19 Action point checklist;
  • Background Screening: Essential Checks;
  • Six steps for good practice in connection with COVID-19;
  • 11 Steps to Reduce Personnel Costs;
  • COVID-19 General advice;
  • How to remove any danger to your business during COVID-19;
  • … and more!

Download your “Employee Screening during COVID-19: everything you need to know and more! FREE ebook here![/vc_column_text][accordion_father][accordion_son title=”Who is ILO?” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.[/accordion_son][accordion_son title=”About CRI Group” clr=”#ffffff” bgclr=”#1e73be”]Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk Management, Employee Background Screening, Business IntelligenceDue Diligence, Compliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle.

In 2016, CRI Group launched Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence – an independent certification body established for ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems, ISO 19600:2014 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management, providing training and certification. ABAC® operates through its global network of certified ethics and compliance professionals, qualified auditors and other certified professionals. As a result, CRI Group’s global team of certified fraud examiners work as a discreet white-labelled supplier to some of the world’s largest organisations. Contact ABAC® for more on ISO Certification and training.[/accordion_son][/accordion_father]

Have you read…

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