Hossam El Shaffei, CFE
Partner, RSM Consulting
Hossam El Shaffei, CFE, has been interested in fighting fraud since first seeing normalized bribery occur in his native Middle East. Currently a partner specializing in risk advisory services at RSM Consulting, he has more than 35 years of global and regional work experience in multinational organizations such as the United Nations and United States Agency for International Development. El Shaffei also established ACFE chapters in Egypt and Jordan and recently became an Authorised Trainer for the CFE Exam Review Course in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.
How did you first become passionate about fighting fraud?
I was born and raised in Egypt. The Middle East has a culture where it is appropriate that you give “baksheesh” — a little extra money for any services that you receive — in restaurants, supermarkets, etc. I started to become passionate about fighting fraud when baksheesh started to switch to an entitlement. People would not provide you the services that you paid for unless you paid them something extra; even at times telling you that the extra was not enough and asking for more. Baksheesh essentially switched from a “voluntary” payment to a “must” payment.
This became a widespread way for corruption at all levels in the public and private sectors and was not limited to supermarkets and restaurants any more. I always hated being forced to pay for something that was within my rights to receive. I also hated paying an additional amount for something I already paid for. Also, it was very clear for me that the tighter anti-corruption controls are implemented, the more expensive the baksheesh gets.
I decided I needed to help organizations and individuals in their fight against fraud and corruption. It is important for staff in any organization to be empowered to speak up when something seems wrong. It is equally important for organizations to have a strong ethical principles to combat fraud, corruption, abuse of authorities, harassments and the like. Tone at the top is incredibly important.
You have a long tenure at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and also have worked for USAID. Are there any unique challenges you’ve faced in working for NGOs
The UN and USAID are a bit different. Apart from fighting fraud, corruption, and abuse of power, it was a great challenge to protect the donors’ contributions and accordingly protect the UN’s credibility. Because of the relief aid nature of the UN, it unfortunately leaves a lot of doors open for corruption, fraud and harassment (including sexual) of the beneficiaries.
In USAID, it was providing assurance that the funds are used for the purpose agreed upon. Normally, the way officials treat the funds aren’t exactly the way the donor expects. Therefore, there is a lot of room for improving the preventing controls ensure funds are not misused or abused.
Officials all over the world need to be educated that aid funds are to develop their countries in ways to create a better life for them and their kids; they should treat that money carefully and as if it was their own.
How has membership in the ACFE impacted your professional development?
My membership in the ACFE has impacted my professional development greatly by encouraging continuous learning through webinars, events and conferences. It keeps me updated on what is new in the profession and allows me to learn from fraud fighters around the world. It also has put my professional career on a very fast-moving track.
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
I love to spend time with my family outside of work and we have a mutual interest in many hobbies including gym workouts, boxing, tennis, swimming and watching movies among other activities.
Read Hossam's full interview in the ACFE Career Center on ACFE.com.