Interview with Andrew Fastow, former Enron CFO and convicted fraudster,* and keynote speaker at the upcoming 2017 ACFE Fraud Conference Middle East, January 29-31
What are you most hoping attendees will take away from your presentation?
This is my first time to speak in this region, so I am looking forward to the opportunity. I am hoping attendees will take away that there is more than one way to think about fraud. Fraud can often occur even when people don’t realize they are committing fraud, and this is something that fraud examiners need to be thinking about. It’s not just about bribery, embezzlement and faking numbers or accounts, but about certain behaviors. I hope people will gain some insight into the behaviors that can lead to fraud.
Why do you think the Enron scandal and message you share remains relevant today?
It remains relevant because of its size and its magnitude, and also the spectacular way and speed with which it imploded. It’s scary because almost no one saw it coming. It is also particularly relevant today because of the human behaviors exhibited there; they are universal human behaviors. Some people are just better at controlling them than others. It really is a story about human nature more than a story about business. I think that’s why it resonates with people. Almost everyone is guilty of this type of behavior at varying degrees and at some point professionally or personally. A comment I often get after my presentations is, “I could think of a dozen situations I have been in where I rationalized things, and now I am second guessing what I did.”
When you are delivering your presentation and sharing your story, are you most trying to highlight the controls that were not in place or red flags missed, or do you think you could potentially sway executives to think twice before crossing blurry ethical lines?
I hope that people walk out of my talk confused. I am not there to lecture them on what the answers are. I want them to walk out thinking, “Whoa, I was thinking everything was black and white, but there really are many shades of gray.” It is not just the black area that leads to fraud, but the gray area as well.
Read more about Fastow and other keynote speakers at ACFE.com/MiddleEast.
*The ACFE does not compensate convicted fraudsters.