"Energy is Opportunity" the Foundation for Saudi Aramco’s Commitment to Fighting Fraud


ACFE Staff

For the past 80 years, Saudi Aramco has worked to establish itself as a leader in energy, and oil and gas production. Most recently, the company has also taken steps to lead fraud detection and prevention efforts in the Middle East. More than just a company tagline, “energy is opportunity” is only a stepping stone to the larger principles of integrity, citizenship and ethics.

"While 'energy is opportunity' to us at Saudi Aramco, the company can only capitalize on its opportunities when the basic underlying business processes are all in place and functioning effectively," said Waheed Alkahtani, CFE and CCEP-I, head of the Internal Auditing Advisory Services Group at Saudi Aramco. "The culture has to be one that values and upholds core principles of high integrity, while each employee demonstrates good corporate citizenship. In this regard, being a leader in both fraud detection and also prevention, such as through greater ethics and fraud awareness, surely contributes to the success of Saudi Aramco."

Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and employing more than 65,000 workers worldwide, Saudi Aramco is one of the largest oil companies in the world. The oil and gas producer leads the industry in production, operational reliability and technical advances. It is currently the world’s largest crude oil exporter, producing roughly one in every eight barrels of the world’s oil supply. With this great responsibility of service, comes an even greater responsibility of ensuring the businesses’ processes and values stay true to the vision of creating opportunity through integrity.

According to Alkahtani, Saudi Aramco has had a history of valued partnership with the ACFE. It established an ACFE Saudi Arabia Chapter in 1997, and most recently joined the Corporate Alliance Program. "When we realized the many benefits of the program, joining the Corporate Alliance became a natural transition for us," he said. "It allows our sizable complement of investigative professionals to have direct access into ACFE’s many resources."

Saudi Aramco decided to join the Corporate Alliance during a difficult time for oil prices, a bold step that could have been viewed risky. But according to Alkahtani, it was actually more cost-effective for Saudi Aramco to administer a group membership as opposed to individual memberships. “At a time of cost-containment and focus on efficiency due to budgetary tightening across the oil industry, the Corporate Alliance offered a positive solution for us, while maintaining valued access to ACFE for our professionals," he said. "We are also able to use ACFE research studies and reports to benchmark our anti-fraud efforts against best-in-class practices. The Corporate Alliance provides cost-effective tools that support our anti-fraud efforts, while keeping us abreast of the latest industry developments and training opportunities."

Affiliates are located in China, Japan, India, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. Like many large corporations, even though the company is headquartered in a central location, its reach is global. Saudi Aramco has designated organizations to effectively manage and investigate suspected fraud cases. “Fraud case profiles tend to be surprisingly similar across global locations,” said Alkahtani. “Saudi Aramco uses a consistent fraud investigation and reporting process to ensure that the General Auditor can reliably provide a comprehensive view to the Board Audit Committee. The two key departments that are involved in investigations of suspected fraud: Special Audits (SAD) and Corporate Security Services (CSSD). Their reports are issued to two corporate executive committees, such that the company acts fairly, ethically and responsibly.”

Perhaps a benefit of joining the ACFE’s Corporate Alliance that may seem obvious, yet understated, is something that Alkahtani is most enthusiastic about: he, and Saudi Aramco, are not alone. "We are all in this fight together! The fact is, no organization operates alone, and we must rely on each other’s efforts to stamp out fraud and corruption," he said. "No government can do it alone either. Regulatory pronouncements must be complemented by corporate policies that work hand-in-hand to enhance transparency and promote integrity. The company has taken a proactive stance in this matter to lead by example. By doing so, we hope that the benefits of a higher integrity business culture will accrue to every citizen and to Saudi Aramco itself."

To find out more about the ACFE's Corporate Alliance Program and hear more about how Saudi Aramco is committed to preventing and detecting fraud, visit ACFE.com.

Target Uses Corporate Alliance Program to Connect Faster and More Genuinely


Today the ability to connect with people at any time and from any place seems easier than ever. A tap of a finger makes the time it takes to reach someone almost instantaneous. However, reaching someone is only half the battle. The dreaded blocked-out day on an Outlook calendar, family obligations and the ding of a new email can sometimes get in the way of many attempted connections. But, the investigative team at Target is using partnerships like the ACFE’s Corporate Alliance programs to become connected to others in their industry and get the insight they need to stay ahead of the curve.

“To be successful in fighting fraud, you need to have broad knowledge and have a diverse network both inside and outside of your organization,” said Gregg Patyk, CFE, Senior Manager of Target’s Global & Information Security Investigations. “The Corporate Alliance helps us attain those goals. It enables us to connect faster and more genuinely with other companies that have similar goals and mindsets.”

Since joining the Corporate Alliance program in 2011, Patyk and his team have been able to build relationships with other member companies, especially during face-to-face seminars. At the ACFE Global Fraud Conference in San Antonio, Texas, last June, Target representatives sat down with other members and discussed specific initiatives regarding whistleblowing reporting within large companies.

“Since the conference, we’ve received assistance that we could not have received anywhere else,” Patyk said. “Likewise, we reciprocated and helped another member company resolve some of their issues. In both examples, both of our companies were able to expedite the resolutions of each matter because of partnerships and information sharing. Building partnerships with other companies enables Target to learn what other companies are doing and how they are successful with their anti-fraud programs.”

However, Patyk said that as in any relationship, it isn’t just about sharing the successes and passing along what has worked. There is also value in sharing challenges and having those tough discussions about things that didn’t work. “Being part of a group that shares information freely is conducive to learning. For example, not every program and method we have tried in the past has worked. I think it is equally important to share failures along with the success stories, so we can learn together.”

In addition to building connections with other corporations, Target uses data analytics to remain proactive and forecast potential threats. But Patyk said that there is another crucial step that goes along with that analysis. “I believe using analytics is a secondary step in being proactive. To truly be proactive, you need to be well-informed and have the right skills, knowledge and information. We connect with our internal business partners on a routine basis to have a better understanding of their businesses. By building these connections ahead of time, it really helps when there is an issue because we’ll have at least a cursory, if not better, understanding of that part of the business and be viewed as problem solvers versus adversaries. Building partnerships, staying informed and being well-trained are the first steps in being proactive.”

Read more about how Target is staying one step ahead of fraudsters in the full article on ACFE.com.

Report to Members Provides Reflections on 2013


Scott Patterson, CFE
ACFE Senior Public Relations Specialist

From the record-setting attendance at our 24th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference to the impressive growth of our Corporate Alliance program, 2013 was a busy year for the ACFE. Yet none of these accomplishments would be possible without the hard work and commitment of all of our members spread across more than 150 countries. It is because of you that fraud examination is so well-regarded by business and government leaders around the globe. And, thanks to you, the ACFE is celebrating 25 years of service in the fight against fraud.

With this in mind, the new year is a great time to reflect on recent accomplishments and milestones and share them in our annual Report to Members.

First, a few numbers we highlighted in the Report:

  • The ACFE grew to nearly 70,000 members
  • Our Corporate Alliance added 17 new partners last year
  • 38 percent of our new members reside outside the U.S.

The global growth is no accident: the ACFE has been increasingly focused on increasing our presence overseas and in 2013, we offered more training opportunities internationally, including events in Prague, Singapore, Montreal, Shanghai, Jakarta, Melbourne, Vancouver and Bahrain.

Most important, however, is our commitment to providing valuable benefits for ACFE members no matter where they call home. The Report reflects on the growth of the Career Center on ACFE.com, as well as new online resources and helpful tools (like the ACFE App) that make it easier for members to access the information they need, quickly and conveniently.

Did you know that the median total compensation for CFEs is 25 percent higher than for non-CFEs? Statistics such as that are in the 2013/2014 Compensation Guide for Anti-Fraud Professionals, and something new in the latest edition is the ACFE’s Salary Calculator. This helpful, online feature provides members the ability to create individual reports and compare their compensation to that of their peers.

I’m always drawn to our members’ own stories. The member profiles in the Report include a video interview with Grace Ghezzi, CFE, CFP, CPA, a veteran in the anti-fraud profession, who talks about how fighting fraud has changed over the years. There is also a written profile of Dr. Michael Wittenburg, CFE, the Head of Risk Quality & Fraud Risk Management for Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), one of the newest members of the Corporate Alliance.

Last but not least, I hope you enjoy a video greeting from the San Antonio Chapter tipping their cap to the ACFE in recognition of a very special milestone.

Thank you to all of our members for making 2013 a year of accomplishments and successes. Together, we can reach new goals and continue to grow fraud examination worldwide in 2014 – and over the next 25 years and beyond.

The Report to Members: 2013 in Review is available in two formats: PDF and Multi-Touch Book for the iPad®. 

ACFE Report to Members: A Look Back at 2011


Scott Patterson
ACFE Media Relations Specialist

At the end of every year, we sit down and put together our Report to Members. It’s a time to reflect on the ACFE’s success over the past 12 months and measure organizational growth and benefits for our members. From a development standpoint, it’s a creative time to design what we hope is a compelling and engaging publication that will inspire readers and get them as enthusiastic about the year ahead as we are.

This year, we tried something new. We compiled the ACFE’s biggest accomplishments of 2011 and mapped them out chronologically, from quarter to quarter. The 2011 Report to Members truly became a “Year in Review.” From the debut of our Advisory Council in January to the release of “Inside the Fraudster’s Mind” in December, the Report takes you on a journey through a year of successes and milestones in our mission to provide the best training and resources in the fight against fraud worldwide. The new ACFE.com, International Fraud Awareness Week, and new seminars and resources are just a few of the highlights covered in the Report.

One major aspect of creating the Report is selecting a theme. In this case, the choice, “Growing Your Global Network,” became obvious because of the networking opportunities provided through our international conferences, social communities, Advisory Council and Corporate Alliance.

Readers of our previous Report to Members will recall a new feature: a clickable video interview with an ACFE member. I really like this multimedia highlight, and we made sure to include one again this year -- an interview with Ronnie Booth, CFE. Booth, assistant auditor general for the U.S. Naval Audit Service, sat down with the ACFE during our 22nd Annual Fraud Conference and Exhibition to talk about his experience as an anti-fraud professional and a CFE.

We also included two great member profiles: Andy Egloff, CFE, fraud investigations manager for EMEA, Dow Europe GmbH, Horgen in Switzerland; and Grace Corbett, CFE, BSA, director of risk management for Sun East Federal Credit Union in Pennsylvania. We think you will find things in common with these two professionals in their efforts as career fraud fighters.

I hope you’ll enjoy this reflection on 2011 as much as we enjoyed creating it. Here’s to all we accomplished together in 2011, and to even more success in 2012.

How Hard the Mighty Can Fall


James D. Ratley, CFE
ACFE President and CEO

Sometimes there seems to be no end to the list of corporate giants crippled or demolished by fraud. All too often these companies should have seen it coming, but did not. Two recent examples illustrate just how hard the mighty can fall.

The former chairman and owner of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker in June drew a 30-year sentence for his pivotal role in a $2.9 billion mortgage fraud scheme that brought down his firm and Colonial Bank, which once were leaders in, respectively, the privately held mortgage lending and banking sectors.

Only a week later, JPMorgan Chase & Co. entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, acknowledging responsibility for a fraud scheme in which some of its employees illegally manipulated bids in the municipal bond market from 2001 to 2006. As part of the agreement, Chase will pay federal and state agencies $228 million in restitution, penalties and disgorgement of profits.

These incidents and others like them highlight a growing crisis: Many large organizations, despite their size and sophistication, are in dire need of well-informed anti-fraud leadership. With the right training and support from a best-of-breed professional association, their employees can fill that gap and mitigate frequently unchecked fraud risks. The missing ingredient in building such cadres of in-house fraud fighters is an arrangement — customized to meet the needs of large companies — for simplifying the process of obtaining and maintaining professional certification for groups of individuals.

In response, the ACFE has developed the Corporate Alliance Program, which makes it easier for large organizations to help their employees obtain the CFE credential. Imagine what your team, certified and sharing a common vocabulary and body of knowledge, could do to improve your company's fraud awareness program and internal controls.

Read the full Letter from the President here.