According to Alishah Janmohamed, CFE, CA, senior internal auditor for Murphy Oil Company Ltd., fraud has not always been a part of the internal audit lingo. Years ago, it was considered a specialized area that was outsourced to "experts." Times, however, have changed. In recent years, the internal auditor has taken on more responsibility in the areas of fraud prevention and detection. "Today, the role of internal auditor includes charting out not just business risks but also fraud risks prevalent in our region," Janmohamed said. "Internal auditors who are also CFEs are now seen by management and the company as fraud experts."
Please describe your everyday role.
My day includes working on internal audits that are planned in the annual internal audit plan and dealing with internal auditees as well as our vendors. I dedicate a lot of time to talking to people within the company from junior to upper management levels to acquire any information on risks, anomalies and concerns. Anything that keeps management awake at night or is a concern for a junior accountant becomes a red flag for me. Once I evaluate these, I create an action plan on how to move forward, whether it is an investigation or a minor follow-up item.
What made you decide to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)?
I was 20 years old when I went to talk to the faculty of law advisors at my university, as it was my dream to become a lawyer. I was told that I was very young at this point, and I should finish my bachelor's and master's degrees and then come back to apply as a faculty member. This was very disheartening for me.
My accounting professor encouraged me to pick an accounting designation instead of wasting my money on getting a master's degree. I took his advice and became a chartered accountant, but I still felt incomplete. I came across a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer who worked in our firm as a fraud examiner, and that's when I decided that the CFE was the right path for me. Not only do I get to talk to people within the organization, but I also investigate matters that no one else has the privilege to do. It makes me feel like a valuable asset to my organization.
What trends are you currently seeing in fraud investigations? Do you see any trends specific to your region?
Even though I don't deal with health care or mortgage fraud, these two types are more prevalent than any other type of fraud in my region. Fraud investigations are now becoming more thorough and concise, especially with all the due diligence that is required from an investigator. Sometimes it is easy to forget that we only collect the evidence and present it to counsel, and that our job is not to prosecute.
What were some of the more challenging tasks you've faced as a CFE?
Some of the challenging tasks have been asking upper management for backup information on their expenses; getting buy-in from upper management on training employees on fraud, especially the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and U.K.’s Bribery Act; dealing with investigations with a scope restriction by upper management and not getting the full cooperation from a third-party vendor.