The relevance of sustainability has risen sharply in recent years and has become a decisive factor for corporate success. In order to meet the demands of society as well as progressive regulation, companies must have a holistic governance concept in place.

The EU Council and the EU Parliament gave the green light for the Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) at the end of November 2022. The topic of sustainability is thus moving further into the focus of investors, competitors, consumers, customers and employees. Companies cannot avoid aligning their goals, structures and processes with the new requirements of the ESG triad "Environment, Social, Governance" in order to ensure long-term economic success. Given the diversity of initiatives and opportunities, companies will have to make the planning and control or targeted management of all ESG measures a top priority.

Businesses, governments and organisations are operating in a political environment where regulations are generally becoming more stringent. The Supply Chain Sourcing Obligations Act, the EU Taxonomy, the Financial Market Integrity Act, the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the ongoing anti-money laundering efforts at EU level and the forthcoming introduction of the Whistleblower Protection Act confirm this development.

However, ESG goes further and starts in the DNA of the company. It is about successful value management to successfully and credibly establish a sustainable and ethical corporate governance and culture ("G"), the "E" for a company's environmental awareness, and the "S" for social factors. Only when rules and processes relevant to compliance with responsibilities and standards in the context of sustainability are clearly and effectively formulated and implemented can sustainable business be ensured.

The risks of embezzlement, corruption and fraud are increasing under the pressure to act in accordance with the new regulations. The requirements in connection with social factors and sustainability lead to new facets of white-collar crime. Overall, we are observing a whole new dimension of white-collar crime characteristics and risk factors. Companies are facing challenges such as green or carbon washing, falsification of environmental certificates, misappropriation of funds, corruption in connection with environmental approval procedures or requirements, but also violations of human rights as well as rainbow and purple washing, which must be countered preventively and proactively.

It is time to think and act holistically, because the consequences of white-collar crime, such as sanctions, reputational damage or fines, entail high and long-term consequential damages.

Almost every company is regularly affected by white-collar crime and misconduct; internationally active companies much more frequently.

The prevention of offences in the ESG environment, the detection of misconduct and the correct response to identified problems as well as the minimisation of the resulting damages are the focus.

KPMG offers you a multi-dimensional approach and has interdisciplinary forensic and ESG specialists who conduct both special investigations, gap analyses, risk assessments and prevention projects in the ESG environment. Feel free to contact us.