Career Center: Help Me Leave a Legacy
Dennis Dambruck, CFE, CPA
Head of Finance
Dennis Dambruck, CFE, CPA, has enjoyed a long, illustrious career in the financial sector. While he’s worked in many different countries, he currently lives in the small island nation of Curaçao, where he volunteers with youth sports nonprofit organizations. In his spare time he plays baseball with his sons and runs marathons.
How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
When I was seven years old, my favorite TV shows were “The Six Million Dollar Man” (I even wanted to change my name to Steve), “Kojak” and “Columbo.” I was intrigued at their ability to solve crimes. Although these were not always related to white-collar crimes, as time passed and I entered the financial world, my interest for specifically white-collar crimes increased. Digging to find out the truth or how it was done gets me going.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since entering the fraud prevention field?
This might sound corny, but since entering the field, the quote I most often think about is, “Trust is not a control.” All organizations have controls in place, and even though sometimes you think you might be smarter than your predecessor, you must stand still and think about a) why the controls were made, b) why they were made in that particular way and c) whether they cover all risks before attempting to make any changes or bypassing them. It is also important to hold yourself accountable for all that you do in your day-to-day work. This is the only way you can protect yourself from negligence. Do not act blindly on instructions from the C-suite, as experience has shown us recently that some executives may do everything to enrich themselves without remorse for the victims. Always analyze instructions and, when in doubt, ask questions until you are comfortable with the answers.
What steps led you to your current position at GiroBank?
I have been in the financial industry for more than 27 years in various accounting, audit, compliance and operational roles, and have worked either in, or with, all major financial centers. With this global knowledge, it became a logical step to fall into a C-suite financial role at my current employer. Due to my audit background, coupled with the integrity and seriousness with which I take my job, fraud-related monitoring activities are also part of my responsibilities together with a fellow CFE in our organization.
What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on?
The most memorable project I have worked on is one where a web of deceit at the highest level had been uncovered. It involved C-suite executives and co-conspirators outside of the organization. Every time you think you are investigating one specific business, more tentacles spread into other directions and businesses, hence why I call it a web of deceit.
You are very active in youth nonprofit organizations and with the University of Curaçao. How did you first get involved?
I come from a marginal neighborhood and played baseball growing up. I see other children I played with living on the streets and/or doing drugs or in other bad situations. When I think about it, I realize that back in those days there wasn’t really any guidance during sports practices for us children other than simply playing and trying to beat everybody no matter what. I see youth sports as an opportunity for us adults to give back to the community and help children develop into better citizens. The game should not be No. 1, but rather a means through which we can get to these children and help them become tomorrow’s professionals in their areas of choice. This is what I hope to achieve by getting involved.
What do you like about being an ACFE member?
You get your money’s worth. It is almost impossible to not stay abreast of developments in the fraud arena if you are an ACFE member. The constant updates with actual, current cases keeps you vigilant and sharp for new developments. Fraud Magazine is filled with valuable information, and I have not even mentioned the online community yet. It gives you access to a wealth of professionals in all industries and all parts of the world, which is a great source of information for every professional CFE.
What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?
I still play baseball with the veterans and am the proud father of three boys, two of whom also play baseball, so we spend our weekends at different fields. Next to that I am an endurance runner and have completed the New York Marathon three times. This year is time to run the streets of Chicago in the Chicago Marathon. My bucket list is currently pretty simple — run the six world marathon majors, so after Chicago there will still be four to go.
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