Category: Skepticism

Bribery Schemes and Their Compliance Responses

This writing will highlight some of the more unusual bribery schemes described in 2019 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement actions and also consider their impact on compliance programs, what they mean for the compliance professional and how the government could potentially use these cases to require more effective compliance programs going forward.
Fraudsters are always looking for loopholes and weak spots to exploit. The same is true for those engaged in bribery and corruption. The role of every compliance professional is to prevent, detect and remediate. By following some of the approaches I have outlined, you can move towards more robust detection.

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Speaking and Training on Fraud, Compliance, Ethics, and More…

Welcome to my site. I have spoken and been the keynote speaker for many conferences, including the ABA, ACC, ACFE, IIA, and IMA to name a few. I have designed customized training for the board, senior leadership, legal, compliance, internal audit, and others for some of the world’s largest organizations.

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Skepticism – A Key Tool in the Fight Against Fraud

“Trust but verify” could be a downright dangerous approach when applied to audit procedures in particular. A much better slogan for fraud deterrence would be, “Trust is a professional hazard.”

The implication is that because financial management plays a leading role in detecting financial fraud, it is incumbent on executives – not just auditors – to exercise appropriate levels of professional skepticism. Board members and particularly audit committee members also must take care to exercise a skeptical approach to financial reports and supporting information.

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Combating Fraud Through Effective Internal Controls

“Fraud is not an accounting problem; it is a social phenomenon.” Joe Wells

Most companies will not readily admit that their organizations may be vulnerable to fraud.
According to the 2020 Report to the Nations published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (“ACFE”), which contains an analysis of approximately 2,500 cases of occupational fraud that were investigated between January 2018 and September 2019, organizations lose 5% of their annual revenues to fraud. While this number is only a general estimate based on the opinion, it represents the collective observations of anti-fraud experts who together have investigated hundreds of thousands of fraud cases. Based on the ACFE’s study, the median loss caused by frauds was $125,000, with 21.0% of the cases resulting in losses of at least $1 million.

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Board Member Composition: Participants, Passengers, and Prisoners?

As the organization’s ultimate decision-making body, the board of directors plays two critical roles: overseeing management on behalf of shareholders and other constituencies; and advising management, albeit with limited involvement in everyday company operations – nose in, hands off! The board should not attempt to run the operations of the organization; it should oversee how management runs the company.

I am amazed at how many members literally are not engaged, which reminded that one of the traits of an effective leader, or Pilot, is being a good team builder. But how can you build a good team if you don’t understand the players?  I’m not speaking about understanding their skills, I am speaking about understanding their level of engagement.  That amorphous concept most ignore.

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Compliance Thought Leaders You Should Be Following

Compiling a list of thought leaders in ethics and compliance is fun, but so challenging. There are simply too many thoughtful people in this field — which is itself enormous and wide-ranging — to call out everyone worth following. So below is a small slice of the thinkers in corporate ethics and compliance that I try to follow.

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Putting the Freud in Fraud – Part Two

While we can’t get into the mind of the white collar criminal, we can take a closer look at high-profile individuals who have perpetrated massive fraud at corporations and instances of fraud identified in practice, as well as some research, to help is identify a pattern of similar behavioral elements common to white-collar crooks and cultural elements common to their environments.

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Compliance 101 – Internal Controls Defined

Compliance officers talk about controls constantly. Effective controls are the lifeblood of what makes a compliance program work. Most of us can rattle off examples of controls, or recognize a control when we see one.
So my fellow speaker asked the audience: What is a control?

Nobody dared answer. We all, me included, were suddenly uncertain that we could define a control correctly.

The speaker who posed this question is Jonathan T. Marks, partner at Baker Tilly and a prolific thinker on all things forensics, audit, and internal control. Lately Marks has been asking audit and compliance audiences to define a control — and to his dismay, most people can’t.

Read Marks’ definition of internal control.

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