Nigel Krishna Iyer, Independent Fraud and Corruption Investigator and Teaching Fellow at the School, discusses the rationale underpinning the new CPD course Defence against Fraud and Corruption.
As a fraud and corruption investigator I’ve travelled the world, delving into murky financial corners, interviewing informants and whistle blowers, confronting criminals, and even sifting through offices and trash at night. If James Bond had been an accountant (perish the thought), that is what he might have been doing! Fraud and corruption isn’t only a concern for those accustomed to fly by night espionage and conspicuous Martini consumption, however. According to the UK Home Office and the National Fraud Authority, it costs approximately £70 billion a year: that’s almost 5% of the national GDP. Fraud and corruption, as far as I’m concerned, is an economic epidemic which could potentially infect us all.
Throughout my professional career I have often found myself investigating the frauds which the people at the top wanted me to investigate, rather than the ones which they were personally involved in. Worse still, few people seemed concerned with identifying the root causes of fraud and corruption as such, nobody wanted to really say why such malevolent practices were so frequent and pervasive. Most companies just plodded on, pretty much unaware that corruption and fraud was happening all the time. The unlucky few got exposed in the media but the majority kept their heads low as a means of keeping their noses clean. Preventing fraud and corruption was seen as unexciting and business schools seemed unconcerned with teaching their students about it.
Ten years ago I started my campaign to teach “defence against the commercial dark arts” to senior managers. At the time, I approached the Dean of a leading business school’s Executive MBA program. He was an open minded fellow with a huge office lined from floor to ceiling with books. He was also a specialist in ‘Risk Management’ and so I asked him which 5 books he recommends to his students to read. Each of these was in English, one of them was written by him and none of them mentioned fraud, corruption, bribery, stealing, cheating, deception, malpractice or misappropriation. Once I’d recovered from the momentary shock I motioned towards his desk, upon which we each saw a variety of newspapers covering various stories about companies which were either going down, or about to do so, on account of corruption and fraud. The penny must have dropped for he instantly invited me to run some courses with him!
Ten years later and things have improved…a little. Most contemporary management practitioners now consider fraud and corruption to be par for the corporate course, at least now that Enron, Sarbanes Oxley Act and the UK Bribery Act have made their way into the business lexicon. And yet, despite the apparition of a heightened level of awareness of fraud and corruption, it has hardly gone away. Admittedly, we now have much by way of complexity and compliance but I very much doubt this has translated into a commitment to actually dealing with the underlying issues. If anything, the creation of more and more rules has only served to create more and more distance from the underlying issues. When I ask former masters and MBA students what they learned about fighting corruption and fraud in their recent programs, their answer remains the same as it would have been ten years ago: almost zero.
That’s why I decided I needed to find a management school which could see it, a school which would break the mould and finally teach effective self-defence against corruption and fraud. I was lucky enough to meet Peter Jackson, Simon Lilley and Matthew Higgins who invited me to develop Defence against Fraud and Corruption, a 15 credit module which enrolled students can take as part of their Masters/ MBA Degree and non-enrolled managers can also take as part of their professional development. The course itself is based on real cases, drawing upon, amongst other things, the concrete experiences of actual whistle-blowers. So why don’t you give it a try? After all, if we want to be commercial wizards, then no education is really complete, as Harry Potter author JK Rowling would put it, without a Defence against the Dark Arts course!
Nigel Krishna Iyer (firstname.lastname@example.org)