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 Results / Misconduct in companies

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Keeping a close eye

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Illegal and unethical conduct in companies

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The results of the study show that in 2018 in all four countries, more than one third of the companies surveyed were affected by misconduct, i.e. illegal or unethical actions. Such conduct, which may be to the detriment of the company but also allegedly for its benefit, violates applicable laws (e.g. falsification of financial data, industrial espionage, corruption, bribery, theft, fraud, and embezzlement) or the ethical guidelines of a company (e.g. targeted exploitation of differences in international legislation, for example in the areas of environmental protection, labour law or tax law). Compared by country, the German companies surveyed were the most frequently affected by misconduct at 43 per cent, followed by the British (40%), French (38%) and finally the companies headquartered in Switzerland (35%).

However, further statistical analysis showed that the size of the company plays a greater role in this context than its country of origin. Accordingly, in all countries the large companies surveyed are more affected than the SMEs. Last year, for example, every second large German company surveyed uncovered at least one case that actually turned out to be illegal or unethical (see country charts below). In France it was 42 per cent, and in Great Britain 46 per cent of large companies.

In comparison with last year’s edition of the Whistleblowing Report, which was limited to Switzerland, the proportion of large Swiss companies affected by misconduct rose by seven percentage points to almost 40 per cent.

In addition, the analysis shows that illegal or unethical conduct is significantly more frequent in the companies surveyed that operate internationally than in purely domestic companies.

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Financial loss

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The study examined not only whether companies were affected by misconduct, but also what total loss they suffered as a result in 2018. Total loss refers to all financial expenses incurred by the companies surveyed directly as a result of the misconduct and in the course of its exposure and resolution, including all material and immaterial consequences.

There is also a clear correlation between the amount of loss and the size of the company. As a rule, the larger the company, the higher the total financial loss caused by misconduct (see country charts). In addition, it is noticeable that although Swiss companies tend to be less prone to misconduct, the financial losses of the affected companies are generally higher than in the other three countries.

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