FROM THE PRESIDENT AND CEO
Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA
ACFE President and CEO
Clare Rewcastle Brown just couldn’t ignore the corruption. “I could see it was a massive and underreported scandal of vast proportions,” Brown says in the cover article of the most recent Fraud Magazine, written by Sarah Hofmann, CFE. “I asked why no one was covering it, and for some time I hoped someone else would. Then I realized all the local people who knew about it felt disempowered.”
As a seasoned reporter, Brown has traced many currents of corruption from local and national government officials to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a Malaysian state fund publicly worth billions that was supposedly earmarked for construction and infrastructure improvements for the southeastern Asian nation.
“What seemed blatantly scandalous and criminal to me, many local people had become resigned to or just learned to accept as a way of life,” she says. “I was trying to remind people that just because it’s happening doesn’t make it right and doesn’t mean it has to go on happening.”
Brown, a British citizen born in Sarawak — a state in Malaysia — returned to her birthplace in 2005 to investigate deforestation, but her reporting trails led her to the top layers of the government. She’s uncovered millions of dollars flowing from 1MDB allegedly into the pockets of politicians, businesspeople and citizens, and she reported the frauds on her Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak.
“There were so many people taking 1MDB’s money,” Brown says. “The web of characters and high-profile organizations, the major banks that have been caught up with major failings and their due diligence and worth in all of this. …
“I was actually pretty worried that this story would get buried. … Very powerful legal forces were working hard to dissuade mainstream media from covering it. … The amount of legal hard-hitting that’s gone on to try and shut up the media on this story has been actually almost unprecedented,” she says.
Brown, a keynote speaker at the 29th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference, June 17-22, in Las Vegas, will receive The Guardian Award, which the ACFE presents annually to a journalist whose determination, perseverance and commitment to the truth has contributed significantly to the fight against fraud. The award inscription reads: “For Vigilance in Fraud Reporting.”
As I assume my new duties at the ACFE, I look forward to hearing from you. See you in Las Vegas!