The Fraud Examiner
The Economist-Turned-Fraud Fighter
ACFE Member Profile
Siward De Vries, CFE, CBM, does not consider himself a “natural” when it comes to fraud examination. “I am a Dutch economist,” De Vries points out. “Most of my career in the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg, I spent in lending operations, including 10 years in charge of operations in Asia.” In 2002, however, De Vries was asked to establish a fraud investigation program within the EIB. He knew he had to build his anti-fraud expertise.
“One of the first things I did was to become a member of ACFE and immerse myself in a number of intensive on-site courses in the U.S., followed by taking the CFE Exam,” De Vries said. “In the meantime, I developed, together with a consultant, an anti-fraud policy framework for the EIB to bring it in line with the established practice in the World Bank and the regional development banks for Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.”
De Vries said he also instituted mandatory anti-fraud training for all professional staff members, as well as an instrument called Pro-active Integrity Review (PIR), “a preventive forensic audit tool to review in great detail certain projects with a higher than average chance of the occurrence of fraud or corruption.”
Both have proven to be important tools for detecting fraud in ongoing projects, De Vries said, but they also act as deterrents to prevent borrowers from committing fraud, as the chances of being discovered have increased substantially.
Based in Luxembourg, De Vries retired four years ago, but he is still active as a consultant in the EIB, in particular with regards to the execution of PIRs. “At the same time, I am an external member of the Asian Development Bank's Integrity Oversight Committee, which is the bank's sanctions committee, approving or changing sanctions proposed by the ADB's Office of Anticorruption and Integrity on persons or companies which committed fraud involving ADB loans.”
De Vries sees a common thread in most of the frauds he has investigated. “In my experience, most fraud in relation with EIB loans occurs in the procurement processes for new contracts,” De Vries said. “This could involve a simple exchange of money or collusion between bidders, but more often they are far more elaborate schemes which are hard to prove.”
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