x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

University unveils new weapon in war on fraud

Would-be financial criminals in the country will soon have more reasons to fear for having their while collars felt.

In an effort to combat fraud, an Australian university's Dubai campus has introduced a special "accounting forensics" course to train government and law enforcement officials on how to detect and prevent financial crimes before they happen.

Raymi van der Spek, the vice president of administration at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), said enrolment in the course was booming and the school's focus on addressing a specific local problem had generated considerable interest.

"We were approached about a year ago by [Dubai's Financial Audit Department] to do a course to train their staff to be better trained and well equipped to deal with the issue of corporate and accounting fraud," Mr van der Spek said.

"To start with, we registered 15 participants from the Dubai accounting office, of which 13 graduated. Thereafter we have received expression of interest by other government departments, including the Dubai Police and the UAE Central Bank to train their staff as well."

Mr van der Spek said UOWD's main campus in Australia already had a full Master's programme in accounting forensics. In Dubai, it had so far established an intensive course with two modules equal to half the full Master's requirement.

But interest is so great among recent graduates that several members of the inaugural class have relocated to Australia to pursue the full degree.

"The post-graduate certificate in accounting forensics we offer here is equivalent to half the Master's programme, but some of the graduates wanted more and they went to Australia to finish the course," Mr van der Spek said.

The accounting forensics course has proved a significant benefit to the Australian institution.

Binod Shankar, a chartered financial analyst who specialises in financial training at the Genesis Institute, a think tank dedicated to social responsibility in business, says specific training to tackle local issues such as accountancy fraud is needed to help attract students.

"There is little formal training on this subject and most people who do forensic accounting work don't have a formal qualification," Mr Shankar said.

Several financial crimes have been uncovered in recent years after the Government brought in tough measures to address corruption and a number of arrests and convictions have been secured.

The accounting forensics course at UOWD, Mr van de Spek said, was part of a greater push to detect financial crimes.

"Training may not prevent fraud. However, it may better equip auditors and management to detect fraud," he said.