Live from Montreal: Hitting All the Right Keynotes


Allan Bachman, CFE
ACFE Education Manager

“Bonjour” was as far as ACFE President and CEO James D. Ratley, CFE, would take his French in greeting attendees at the 2013 ACFE Canadian Fraud Conference in Montreal. “You’ll find soon enough I have difficulty with English,” he joked when kicking off his session on professional skepticism. Using his trademark combination of real-life examples, including fraudster video interviews, and humor, Ratley kept the attendees' attention throughout. His advice: Assume nothing, always have facts to support your findings and always seek to know more.

Andreas Pohlmann, Monday’s luncheon speaker, has his work cut out for him as the recently appointed chief compliance officer for SNC-Lavalin. Pohlmann spoke on the issues of compliance, maintaining an ethical environment in an organization and the difficulties of getting a company that has strayed back on the right track. “The key to change is leadership,” Pohlmann emphasized before he described leadership’s role in prevention, detection, response and eventually improvement. “Today clean business is our business.” He closed by reiterating, “People are our greatest resource – in particular when it comes to compliance.”

Tuesday kicked off with an ACFE favorite from the recent 24th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference. Chris Mathers, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police undercover officer, described the current fraud climate in Canada. He pulled no punches in his comments about how white-collar criminals are treated lightly by the Canadian judicial system. He used humor and stories from his career to make his points about bribery and corruption. Chris was complimentary of the ACFE and the attendees of the conference, saying they were the “pointy end of the stick in the fight against fraud, and it’s working.”

Lunch on Tuesday continued the strong general sessions with Ed Rosenberg, VP and chief security officer for the BMO Financial Group. Rosenberg pointed out, “There are no boundaries to financial crime. The world is the stage for financial crime now and may not be fully prepared for what is happening.” He sees his role as “criminal risk management." Quoting the ACFE’s 2012 Report to the Nations statistics on criminal background and detection, Rosenberg laid out the cold, hard facts of financial institutions' annual payment card fraud losses that were incurred in Canada alone and the net of recoveries: $500 million a year, an amount so large attendees found it hard to believe. These losses are all absorbed by the banks, and deterring these attacks is a top priority. He closed by discussing several measures they are taking to identify potential threats before they metastasize into real losses.

The ACFE Canadian Fraud Conference is a sum of its parts, and the Pre-Conference on data analytics, as well as the breakout sessions and the gracious host city of Montreal, have been extremely well-received.