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Photograph: HINA

One in four companies in Croatia experienced some type of economic crime in the last two years, suffering losses ranging from HRK 350,000 to 7 million, and the three most frequently reported types of crime were theft, bribery and corruption, and cyber crime, shows a survey conducted by PricewaherhouseCoopers (PwC) and presented in Zagreb on Wednesday.

Martina Butkovic of PwC said that this was the first survey of the kind in Croatia, conducted in 2014 and 2015 and covering 47 companies, of which some 80% were private. PwC's global survey covered 6,300 companies in 115 countries.

The Croatian survey shows that 26% of the interviewed companies had experienced some kind of economic crime in the last two years, which is below the global average of 36%.

The three most frequently reported types of crime were theft, encountered by 58% of the respondents (the global average was 64%), followed by bribery and corruption, reported by 33% of the respondents (the global average was 24%), and the fast growing cyber crime, reported by 25% of the interviewed company managers (the global average was 32%).

Half the Croatian respondents said they suffered losses ranging from 350,000 to 7 million kuna due to economic crime.

Cyber crime is increasingly present, Butkovic said, noting that there were two types of cyber fraud - one involved credit cards and the other cyber espionage, namely the theft of intellectual property such as business secrets, product information, etc.

Information on the profile of perpetrators of economic crime shows that in 33% of the cases the perpetrators were insiders - people working for the company in question, while 67% were outside perpetrators. Thirty-eight percent of those 67% outside perpetrators were buyers and 25% were representatives, agents and mediators.

Commenting on those results, Butkovic called on companies to check potential clients and obtain more information on them.

She noted that economic crime was most present in the retail and consumer sectors, followed by the insurance and construction sectors.

The survey also shows that 42% of the interviewed companies discovered fraud by routine internal audits.

A lot remains to be done in the entire region of eastern Europe to fight bribery and corruption as well as procurement fraud.

According to the survey, the situation in Croatia regarding economic crime seems to be very good because the incidence rate of economic crime is lower than the global average, however, there are other circumstances that point to the probability of lower discovery rates. The key instruments to follow and discover crime are not sophisticated and are often not used, said PwC expert Per Sundbye.

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