The Fraud Examiner

Cypriot CFE Wins the ACFE’s Outstanding Achievement in Outreach/Community Service Award
 

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July 2019

ACFE Member Profile
Dr. Maria Krambia Kapardis, CFE
Associate Professor
Cyprus University of Technology


Dr. Maria Krambia Kapardis already has a long list of accolades in the anti-fraud industry. She helped found the ACFE Cyprus Chapter and Transparency International Cyprus. With her advocacy work and research, she has worked with the Ministry of Justice and Public Order in Cyprus to prepare legislations on whistleblower protection, lobbying and asset declaration for elected politicians. She also worked with Cyprus’ President to create a national action plan against corruption and helped set up an anti-corruption agency, all while maintaining her full-time job as an associate professor at Cyprus University of Technology. For her efforts, she was recently named the 2019 winner of the ACFE’s Outstanding Achievement in Outreach/Community Service Award.


How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

My passion for investigating fraud began when I was working as an auditor in Australia about three decades ago. I went on to complete a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in the area of fraud detection and prevention, and continued since then researching and publishing in the area of fraud, fraudulent behavior and ethical behavior.

What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since entering the fraud prevention field?

Fraud is an evolving area, and where fraudsters are becoming smarter and well-versed. Thus, we as CFEs and academics ought to be committed in finding not only methods of detecting and investigating fraud, but encouraging prevention, as prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, it is difficult to convince those who have not been victimized that they need to consider implementing adequate measures and controls, but we should not give up.

What steps led you to your current position as Associate Professor in Accounting at Cyprus University of Technology?

I was an academic in Melbourne, Australia, before repatriating to Cyprus. Given I enjoy teaching and researching, and I have a passion to pass on to future generations the skills and toolset to have moral fiber and be better equipped to excel in what they do in their life, becoming an academic was the natural career path for me.

You helped found Transparency International Cyprus. What led you to start that and what was that journey like?

While researching for a publication, I came to realize that the local citizens, politicians and technocrats were not aware that many actions undertaken were corruption. Setting up an NGO in Cyprus in 2010 with a mission to combat corruption and embed transparency was not an easy one. I initially had to find the appropriate team that had the same passion and vision as I did. We then had to raise awareness by administering a number of surveys to find out the state of practice and then convince the media to address corruption and capture. That was very difficult, as journalists before 2013 almost never discussed corruption. Thus, the trust had to be earned first through the administration of surveys, organization of seminars, public lectures and regular media coverage. It was a long road but when one has “Ithaka” in mind and Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” at the back of one's mind, the journey is somewhat is easier.

You recently won the ACFE Outstanding Achievement in Outreach/Community Service Award. Why do you think it is important for CFEs to be active in their communities?

I believe CFEs have a duty to be active in their communities, as do all citizens of course. Borrowing the words of John F. Kennedy and Albert Einstein, where the first said, “do not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” and the latter that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” I am of the view that responsible citizens ought to take an active role in volunteering and contributing toward making the community where they live a better place for their children and their grandchildren.

How has the CFE impacted your career?

I am of the view that academics ought to have some practical experience and “walk the talk” in an effort to contribute positively toward making an impact. Being a CFE enabled me to be part of a bigger network with a common goal and mission to address fraud and corruption. The ACFE’s annual Report to the Nations, as well as Fraud Magazine and other communication received from the ACFE, provides me with the resources needed to train and educate those interested in combating fraud corruption, and for material to be use in my own research.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy walking in the park at sunrise, as I get inspired by the peaceful nature and the birds. It was during one of those walks when I found myself focusing on the wildflowers rather than the weeds, and after the walk I put together the proposal of a Business Ethos awards, currently offered by Cyprus Integrity Forum and Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I also enjoy knitting, gardening and cooking.