Eighteen Australian Universities discuss financial crime research

McGrathNicol’s collaboration hub FCX last week hosted more than 45 representatives from 18 Australian Universities at a roundtable for a presentation on the latest research into financial crime and to share industry experiences of financial crime risks and challenges in the University sector.

Professionals from the Universities’ risk, internal audit, legal and human resources functions received a progress report from Professor Clinton Free and Associate Professor Paul Andon of University of New South Wales on their research into occupational fraud.

In a live broadcast to each of McGrathNicol’s offices in Australia, Professors Free and Andon outlined their research and interim findings centred on 21 interviews they have conducted with offenders serving or having recently completed custodial sentences for occupational fraud.

The preliminary findings suggest offender ‘rationalisation’ may not be as crucial an element in occupational fraud offending as previously believed, in particular in long-term fraudulent behaviour. This new research indicates that rationalisation ‘blurs’ as long-term perpetrators shift their attention to putting in place one of four identified mechanisms which enable them to internally cope with their conduct. The research project continues and it remains to be seen if these early findings lead to a new way of thinking about and, most importantly, enabling the early detection of occupational fraud.

The FCX industry forums provide an opportunity for professionals with a focus on prevention and detection of financial crime to share their knowledge and experiences for mutual benefit. McGrathNicol’s work in and engagement with the University sector reveals that there are a number of particular challenges. The following are amongst those discussed by the FCX attendees:

  • Bribery in connection the recruitment of international students
  • Inappropriate use of research grant funding
  • Casualisation of the academic workforce giving rise to a heightened risk of payroll manipulation
  • Awareness and management of conflicts of interest arising from research grants and partnerships
  • Procurement fraud including conflict of interest

Our monthly FCX industry forum are collaborative and informative and bring together external speakers and professionals to discuss issues specific to an industry. If you would like to learn more about the UNSW research project or upcoming events, please click here to subscribe to FCX.


Matt Fehon

Matt Fehon
Partner, Sydney
T: +61 2 9338 2680
E: mfehon