NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya recorded the highest level of economic crime among 78 countries in the past year, with the theft of assets and money in businesses and government agencies on the rise, a report by consultancy PwC showed on Wednesday.
Kenya has a reputation for being one of the most corrupt countries in east Africa, and its judiciary is notorious for slow delivery of justice and rampant bribery. The government has repeatedly stated it is fighting these vices.
The country's incidence of economic crime of 66 percent was almost twice the average of 34 percent among all countries in the global survey, said PwC.
Second to Kenya on the league table of countries with the worst rate of economic crime was South Africa, followed by other African countries, Britain, New Zealand and Spain, which had similar levels of fraud to Australia.
Kenya ranked second-highest after South Africa in 2009 when the last survey on economic crimes was conducted by the firm.
Japan had the least economic crime, followed by Indonesia, Slovenia and Greece, the survey which included responses from privately-owned, listed and government agencies showed.
Other than theft, Kenyan businesses said they had been hit by accounting fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering.
"Economic crime is on the rise globally, but is accelerating in Kenya," said Martin Whitehead, a partner at PwC and head of the firm's forensic services unit.
Whitehead said economic crime was expanding because many Kenyan organizations have a somewhat cavalier attitude towards the problem and do not report the crimes to the police, while others cited a lack of confidence in the judicial process.
Most fraudsters were 30 to 40 year-old males, with at least a university degree and usually had worked for about 5 years in the company they were defrauding, Whitehead said.
"Although some companies are getting tougher, an awful lot are not. Some say it is of no use to report to the police or take civil action. It is a long process, nothing will be done," he said.
A total of 91 organizations in Kenya were surveyed. Many of them said cybercrime was also on the rise, mostly from Kenya and followed by Nigeria.
"Globally, Africa is seen as one of the main sources of cybercrime threats," Whitehead said.
(Reporting by James Macharia; Editing by Duncan Miriri)