The Pricewaterhousecoopers (PWC) 2001 Economic Crime Survey has revealed that 70% of major UK companies have been subject to economic crime in the past two years.

The survey showed that 89% of the fraud was committed by employees, which was reflected in the higher incidence of embezzlement and breach of trust in the survey.

But almost 40% of UK firms had not reported the frauds to the authorities and only 15% had recovered more than 50% of their losses.

Half of the firms discovered the fraud through a tip-off and 62% said it was the management's responsibility to prevent and detect fraud.

The risk from fraud will be the same or greater in the future, 83% of companies surveyed said.

PWC UK investigations head Andrew Clark said that, although a growing number of companies were becoming aware of the risks of fraud, too few took the necessary steps to prevent fraud or equip themselves to detect it.

"It's critical that companies start to treat fraud as a fundamental business challenge and dedicate sufficient time and resources to tackle the problem," Clark said.