Sudhir Gidwani, CFE, says in 1984 he first found tremendous joy piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of unearthing fraud during his investigation of the collapse of a major local bank in Hong Kong. “As my experience in fraud and corruption investigations
developed, I became more passionate about what I was doing,” he says. In 2000, Gidwani’s twin brother attended a training course organized by the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, where he heard about the ACFE. “He told me all about
the ACFE, and after researching the association I wanted to earn my CFE credential.” Gidwani, a chief investigator at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong, is the ACFE’s 2020 CFE of the Year because of his outstanding achievement
in fraud examination, his financial investigative abilities, and his perseverance and professionalism in fraud and corruption cases.
I was born in Kobe, Japan, and spent the first six years of my life there. My father’s job transfer sent us to Mumbai, India, where I spent the next 18 years. My father was a banker and he held a senior position, so I wanted to follow in his footsteps
and work for an internationally recognized bank or financial institution.
I attended the University of Bombay and majored in accountancy, and was awarded a bachelor of commerce degree. I’m also qualified as a chartered accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and an international affiliate of the
Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
I came to Hong Kong in 1984 and was employed in Ernst & Young, CPA’s audit division (then known as Ernst & Whinney, CPA). During my employment with them, the Hong Kong Police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC], a law enforcement
agency that investigates allegations of corruption and other related offenses, were jointly tasked with investigating the collapse of the Overseas Trust Bank. They engaged Ernst & Whinney to investigate whether there was any financial impropriety
or fraud leading to the collapse, and I was part of the team. This was my first experience in a fraud investigation.
The ICAC recruited me in 1986. For the first 10 years I was part of various task forces that investigated major corruption and fraud in the banking and securities industries in Hong Kong. Then, the ICAC set up a forensic accountancy section, and
I was posted to that section as a forensic accountant. In 2010, the ICAC set up a Proceeds of Crime section which deals with the restraint and confiscation of assets under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance, and I was tasked with heading this
The fraud-fighting field has taught me the qualities of patience and perseverance. To all those starting their career, don’t give up easily. Also, every fraud examiner must keep abreast of changing laws and fast-developing technology — criminals are finding ingenious methods to commit crimes.
As chief investigator of the Proceeds of Crime section of the ICAC, I’m responsible for restraining and confiscating ill-gotten assets to deprive criminals of their corrupt and illicit crime proceeds. The greatest challenge is to trace the assets
that are beneficially owned by the criminal — often the assets are held by nominees or shell corporations, which obscures the link to the beneficial owner.
Between 2017 and 2018, I headed a team that was responsible for the successful confiscation of crime proceeds of HK$119 million (US$15.25 million) from two defendants convicted of corruption and fraud. Deciphering how much of the benefit the defendants
derived from the offenses was a complex process and not easily computable. Also, a majority of the assets weren’t held in the names of the defendants, which meant proving that they had beneficial interest in the assets was a formidable task. Both
cases involved lengthy legal battles and demonstrated the determination of the ICAC in cutting the financial vein of the corrupt.
I’m humbled and honored to be awarded the ACFE’s CFE of the Year. My CFE credential and Chartered Accountant qualification, coupled with my experience in fraud and corruption investigations, have resulted in the courts of Hong Kong accepting me
as an expert witness when I give expert opinion on matters that are within the ambit of my expertise. Learning about the experiences of other CFEs has widened my knowledge of the modus operandi adopted by fraudsters in various parts of the world.
The fraud-fighting field has taught me the qualities of patience and perseverance. To all those starting their career, don’t give up easily. Also, every fraud examiner must keep abreast of changing laws and fast-developing technology — criminals
are finding ingenious methods to commit crimes.
I’m a qualified cricket umpire and often officiate in domestic league matches on weekends. The most challenging and memorable experience was officiating an international tournament in Abu Dhabi, where I had to stand on the cricket field for seven
hours in temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Emily Primeaux, CFE, is associate editor of Fraud Magazine. Contact her at eprimeaux@ACFE.com.