Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Accounting & Information Systems

First Advisor

Sylvia Dempsey


There has been an increased focus in the Irish media on fraud, particularly since the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank in 2007. There has however been little academic research undertaken into occupational fraud in Ireland. This study will examine whether or not the current guidance to detect and convict occupational fraud in Ireland is sufficient.

This study achieves its objective by examining the content of press articles reporting thirty-five occupational fraud cases convicted in Ireland in the period 2002 to 2013. It categorises the content of the articles using a framework developed by Cohen et al. (2010), which combines the Fraud Triangle (FT) with the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). It then uses qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine if these aspects of fraud are present in the relevant auditing standard (ISA 240: The auditor’s responsibilities relating to fraud in an audit of financial statements).

This study found ISA 240 sufficient in its coverage of the ‘opportunity’ to commit fraud, but insufficient in its coverage of the ‘incentive/pressure’ and ‘attitude/rationalisation’ elements to commit fraud. It suggests the addition of lavish lifestyle, greed, pressure from criminals, depression, concern for others and paying back for previous fraud to the examples of ‘incentive/pressure’ in the audit standard. It suggests the addition of sense of entitlement, no apparent regard for the crime, complicity in undertaking a fraud, weak personality, lack of business knowledge, looking out for the good of the company, charitable actions for the good of others and paying back for previous frauds to the examples of ‘attitude/rationalisation’ in the audit standard. Undeniably, it would be impossible to provide an exhaustive list of all circumstances under which fraud is undertaken; however by including the examples of frauds compiled in this study, further guidance can be provided to auditors.

The inadequacy of the auditing standard is not the only reason why the number of convictions for occupational fraud is low. This study finds the multifarious methods of committing fraud, the status of the fraudster, difficulties in detecting fraud, advances in technology, law and auditing standards not keeping pace, reluctance by organisations to report fraud, and the fact that predatory fraudsters target organisations and therefore not all frauds are accidental, as factors keeping the conviction rate for occupational fraud so low in Ireland.

It is important that the professional standards and the resources of those charged with detecting and prosecuting fraud in Ireland be strengthened to give further confidence in the prevention, detection, and conviction of fraud. This should lead to a reduction in the effects of fraud in organisations and in wider society.

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