In the last few years, many accounting frauds have shaken investors’ confidence in the reliability of financial reports. The large number of instances of financial reporting frauds and failure of certified auditors to discover the frauds are shocking and disheartening. The solution to this menace definitely lies in fraud prevention, which this book, christened “Fraud Prevention Guide” is all about.
It is written by Waheed Aremu, who has more than 10-year experience in anti-fraud activities, much of which was acquired from statutory audit functions and the banking sub-sector. Aremu holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State and Master of Business Administration from University of Ilorin, Kwara State. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN); an Associate of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), USA and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
This author says fraud is a menace to modern-day business activities and economic prosperity. He educates that many large corporations have witnessed financial scandals due to the unethical conduct of top-level officers in the organisations. Aremu stresses that fraud also has systemic effects on global economy, assuring that this book has therefore been written to offer fraud prevention strategies. He says no one is born to be fraudulent; rather people slip gradually into fraud often unknowingly because of their ignorance of what fraud entails.
This text has nine chapters as far as structure is concerned. Chapter one is tagged “Introduction to fraud”. In the words of this author here, “Fraud is a growing phenomenon in every society today, and the threat of fraud is a reality that faces every nation. Yet it appears adequate attention is not given to this threat. The challenges are compounded by the fact that frauds are perpetrated in secrecy and many frauds may remain undiscovered and indeed may never be discovered, although some schools of though believe no fraud can remain hidden in the long run.”
Aremu stresses that reports of frauds and the manner of their perpetration catch people unawares. He says fraudsters are ordinary people who merely exploit loopholes within the system. This author adds that it is also interesting to note that experiences about frauds indicate that perpetrators cut across various shades of human endeavour. Aremu asserts that this situation brings to the fore, the need for organisations to proactively manage fraud risks, create a roadmap for effective implementation of anti-fraud programmes and establish remediation policy to minimise the impact. This professional accountant illuminates that fraud slowly erodes jobs and investments and has negative impact on corporate reputation or brand image.
He educates that there is no universally accepted definition of fraud, adding that, however, fraud is not an abstract concept because it is an idea that exists in real life in such a way that we can identify it when it is exposed.
Chapter two is based on the subject matter of overcoming the challenges of fraud. Here, Aremu explains that the challenges of fraud are by no means small in any human setting. He says in modern-day organisations, challenges of fraud manifest in various forms and these challenges must be appreciated to be able to overcome them. “An organisation faces the challenges of fraud from fellow corporate organisations which in some cases the law enforcement and regulatory agencies may be unable to control,” submits this author. He discloses that corporate frauds are also perpetrated by dishonest employees who defy all anti-fraud control measures to commit their financial crimes.
According to him, “Laws and regulations provide checks on frauds and other crimes because they contain sanctions to check the excesses of the society. Similarly, organisational policies and procedures have penalties and rewards. The experience in some cases is that opportunities are created for fraudsters because they obey the letter and not the spirit of the law or policy as the case may be….”
In chapters three to five, Aremu examines the concepts of understanding fraud prevention; effective fraud prevention framework and corporate governance.
Chapter six is entitled “Role of key stakeholders”. This author asserts here that the task of ensuring the success of corporate governance is collective and every stakeholder has a role to play in achieving this. Aremu suggests that the board has the ultimate responsibility for implementing it within the organisation. He says, “The external auditor has responsibility not to be a party to a financial statement that does not reflect a true and fair view of the underlying accounting records….”
In chapters seven to nine, this author analytically X-rays the concepts of ethics; compliance; and ethical and compliance programme.
Employment of animal symbolism to illustrate fraud risk quadrant and categories constitutes part of the stylistic creativity of this book. A quadrant of low impact and low frequency is identified as rabbits. Second quadrant of high impact and low likelihood is represented by bears. Third quadrant of low impact but high likelihood is dogs, while high impact and high likelihood is represented by snakes.
The title of the text is short yet assertive. Aremu makes abundant use of graphics to visually expand the scope of readers’ understanding. The cover design is graphically simple yet communicative non-verbally. The language is simple while the ideas are clearly presented.
One error is noticed on the outer back cover thus: “… has more than a decade experience on anti-fraud and control activities many of which was acquired…” instead of “… has more than a decade of experience in anti-fraud and control activities, much of which was acquired…” This and other minor ones need to be corrected in the next edition.
This text is a masterpiece conceptually. It is a compendium of effective solutions to the multiplicity of frauds pervading our society today, especially the corporate world. This book is highly recommended to auditors, corporate organisations and managers of national economies. It is fantastic.