Convicted Enron CFO Says Committing Fraud is Easier Than Ever

“It is easy to find examples of Enron-like behavior today in companies from the U.S. to Asia,” says former Enron CFO and convicted fraudster Andrew Fastow. In the wake of scandals like the Olympus fraud and the recently uncovered emissions scandal committed by Volkswagen, he believes his story is even more relevant today.
“Committing fraud is easier than ever. The tools available to commit fraud have increased exponentially since the 1990s, even since Enron, and more public companies are taking advantage of them,” he told the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. He will be speaking at the 2015 ACFE Asia-Pacific Fraud Conference in Singapore November 4-6 and thinks that fraud is not only growing in frequency, but also expanding its reaches globally. He said, “People are people, no matter what country or region they are from. The drivers of fraud and executives’ rationalizations of actions that may be fraudulent are universal.”
It seems like after fraud cases, the first public response is often for the CEO or chairman to step down from the company or organization. While that might placate shareholders and parts of the public, Fastow warns that a more comprehensive overhaul of company culture may be needed. “Culture starts at the top … But it doesn’t start at the top with pretty statements. Employees will see through empty rhetoric and will emulate the nature of top management decision-making. If top management were to make a statement or decision that is misleading, for example, employees will see that clearly, and they will adjust their behavior accordingly in order to emulate it. A robust ‘Code of Conduct’ can be emasculated by one action of the CEO or CFO.”
The 2015 ACFE Asia-Pacific Fraud Conference will be one of the largest gatherings of fraud fighters in the region. Fastow believes that the attendees of the conference serve more than just a clerical purpose, but are actually one of the best tools in the arsenal against fraud. “The role of fraud examiners needs to be reinforced and expanded. Fraud examiners must not just be the police who catch the problem that has already occurred; they must become the conscience of the company.”
Fastow pled guilty to two counts of securities fraud and served a six-year prison sentence. He has since assisted the Enron shareholders in recovering approximately $6 billion and volunteers his time for speaking engagements at training conferences, universities and business groups around the world. As of today, he is the only former Enron executive that has accepted full responsibility for his role in the scandal.
Fastow will speak at the conference along with Christophe Durand, Interpol’s Head of Cyber Strategy, Barry Wong, Vice President and Head of Asia Pacific for customer fraud management for MasterCard Worldwide and James D. Ratley, CFE, the President and CEO of the ACFE.
Register now for your chance to attend the 2015 ACFE Asia-Pacific Fraud Conference November 4-6 at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.