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MNCs queue up to Certified Fraud Examiners

Ashwini Shrivastava in New Delhi | January 09, 2009 17:40 IST

In a bid to safeguard their firms against fraud, many multinational companies are contacting Certified Fraud Examiners for checking their accounts and financial transactions.

The move, experts say, is prompted after the declaration of about Rs 7,800 crore (Rs 78 billion) fraud in the fourth largest IT firm of India -- Satyam [Get Quote] Computer.

"We are contacted by many firms. Many of them have presence across the globe. They are taking our expertise in assessing possible fraud and plug loopholes in financial flow," said Kunwar Vikram Singh, a Delhi-based Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

According to Singh, most of the MNCs have already subscribed to CFE services. But, there is a feeling of apprehension among hundreds of small and mid-size firms running their business in and outside the country.

"We get number of phone calls by various company owners daily to answer queries on checking possible financial bungling. Most of them have asked for our services to curb any scams," he said. This trend is now visible in almost all parts of the country.

"CFE existed for long in our country but their presence was not much evident. But now, companies are realizing the necessity of CFEs and contacting one around them," said Mayur Joshi, a Pune-based CFE and Director (India Chapter) of Association of Certified fraud Examiners (ACFE), a global body for fraud prevention, detection and deterrence.

                                      The Satyam fiasco: Complete Coverage

To become a CFE, an aspirant should have necessary experience as a Chartered Accountant or Financial Investigator and then take a test by the ACFE. "Only after clearing the test one can become a Certified Fraud Examiner," he said.

There are around 20,000 CFEs worldwide who are experts in the major areas of fraud like financial, legal, investigation/interview and criminology.

They are especially trained to identify the warning signs that indicate fraud risk. More than 100 MNCs across the country are taking Risk Consultancy Services from such consultancy firms.

"We have got more than 10 CFEs and around 30 Forensic consultants to detect and protect companies from various frauds that may take place in corporate world. They are now active as request from companies for their services expands," said Joshi, CEO of Indiaforensic Consultancy Services, a Pune-based anti-fraud education and consultancy service provider.

As the corporate world is expanding at a fast pace, the need of CFE and Forensic Accountants is also growing, said Joshi. However, forensic accounting think-tank recommends that the investors should look for "early warning signals of fraud" in the balance sheets of the companies they are investing.

"It is difficult to say with certainty that a company is indulging in fraud, however, there are number of indicators that warn the investors before hand and they must look after that," he said.

Some of the initial trends could be -- company losing out on the major customers and still showing the upward trend in profits, company negotiating financing based on receivables, accounts receivables growing at the pace which is not consistent with the past trend, debtors growing at the speed faster than the speed of the growth of sales and unusually large sales toward the end of the quarter.

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