Fraud advisory panel set to demand prevention training for solicitors

The new pan-industry anti-fraud body chaired by Clifford Chance partner George Staple is to call for the introduction of anti-fraud training for solicitors and other professionals.

One of the first moves of the Fraud Advisory Panel – set up by the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) in February – was to appoint Detective Inspector Tom Craig from the National Criminal Intelligence Service to head a working party looking at methods of fraud prevention and training.

Last week, the panel heard Craig's findings. Staple, the former director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “He found that there was actually very little training at all on fraud detection and prevention.”

Craig's report found that the only training programmes on offer were: the internal auditors' body; the ICA, which was “just beginning” to put fraud training in its courses; and Liverpool University, which had devised a degree in fraud prevention and detection.

Professional bodies such as the Law Society, Staple said, should “look at their courses and see whether they really pay adequate attention to training in fraud prevention”.

He said he would be calling for the setting up of an anti-fraud course for professional advisers in his first annual report. The panel also heard from Liverpool University which has spent the past eight months, at the panel's behest, collating published information on known fraud cases. The panel agreed to create a Web site on which this database of information could be placed and categorised.

Staple explained: “If the chairman of XYZ manufacturing suspects he has a fraud in his purchasing department, it would be very useful if he could have access to a database that could provide material on purchasing fraud.”

Staple said the other main problem in stamping out fraud was lack of awareness among companies. “It's like a burglary: until it happens to you, you don't realise what a horror it can be.

“Once you suffer a fraud you become so much more aware of what you have to do to prevent further fraud. We want to try and raise awareness at senior management levels at good companies to put in place fraud prevention measures.”