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On site 'naivety' leaving industry open to fraud

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CONSTRUCTION IS leaving itself open to corruption through its tradition of delegating responsibility for huge buying decisions to relatively low-level staff on site, the industry was warned this week.

'This type of procurement can create opportunities for fraud, ' said director of forensic services for PricewaterhouseCoopers Sterl Greenhalgh. He cited in particular excessive gifts from suppliers that could be seen as a bribe.

'Unscrupulous parties recognise that many people don't know the rst thing about what is acceptable in terms of gifts and hospitality, and it is easy for them to be compromised by a pattern of free lunches and trips.' He commended the decision by Bovis Lend Lease for setting a value of £100 on what is a reasonable gift (NCE last week).

Greenhalgh's view was backed by a senior industry executive who said the sector's 'naivety and complacency' left it open to fraud and corruption.

'There is a lot of evidence that crooked individuals have spotted the opportunities on site and deliberately taken jobs where they can make money from bribes, ' he said. 'They come in on temporary contract, but are given huge buying powers.' 'Employees need to be provided with fraud awareness training, backed by a clear policy of what is acceptable, ' Greenhalgh said. He added that employees need to be educated to spot a conflict of interest. This will give them the condence to blow the whistle on those acting illegally.

Builder Rok last week sacked two staff for taking inappropriate gifts and cash from subcontractors, although one is appealing.

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