Kenanga firepower to combat fraud, bribery and corruption

The financial group has also put in place best practices requiring proper due diligence on counter-parties prior to establishing business relationships

By HABHAJAN SINGH

Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd believes it has enough firepower to take a stand against fraud.

Over the years, the financial services group has been working to put in place policies and procedures that would pave the way for employees and stakeholders to lodge non-compliances and abuses that they encounter in the business.

As a result, the group believes that the move should have effectively created a “perception of detection” to enable them to proactively reduce the potential opportunities to commit fraud.

“Why we say ‘perception of detection’ is that when someone is watching, people tend to be very conscious about their behaviour,” said Kenanga chief regulatory and compliance officer Maheswari Kanniah (picture).

She said organisations are feeling the pressure to weed out fraud at the highest levels, especially with declining public tolerance for bribery and corruption.

“This is why I personally do not believe that having policies and procedures in place alone can eradicate this problem.

“It has to come down to the proper implementation of the policy and the will to execute it without fear and favour that ultimately will be the telling factor if the organisation is ethical,” she said in an email response to The Malaysian Reserve.

On the policy front, among the measures already in place are group-wide policies for code of conduct and ethics; anti-fraud, bribery and corruption; fraud reporting; and whistleblowing and conflict management.

In essence, she said these policies set out the behaviours expected of Kenanga employees and representatives when carrying out activities towards setting a common standard of practice across the company.

“Generally, these policies are intended to provide a basic reference point to combat fraud, bribery and corruption, or prevent situations in which fraudulent, bribery-related and corrupt practices may take root and is not intended to provide definitive answers to such concerns.

“The reporting obligations on any suspicion, detection or occurrence of fraud are well entrenched in these policies. Over and above these policies, the whistleblowing policy is also in our corporate website and that allows any external stakeholders to raise any concerns or suspicion of fraud,” she said.

Kenanga has also put in place best practices requiring proper due diligence on counter-parties to ensure compliance with similar requirements in which Kenanga is subjected to prior to establishing business relationships.

“The due diligence requirement is also extended to relationships with vendors and clients of Kenanga, not only to assess compliance with applicable requirements, but also to ensure that business dealings are conducted at arm’s length,” she said.

In addition, Kenanga has also embedded the principles of fairness and transparency in conducting its business.

“This should prevent taking unfair advantage on the clients and allow full disclosure to be made comprising the risks, returns and possible losses involving a particular business deal,” she said.

Fraud Awareness Week Kenanga staff had just undergone its annual Fraud Awareness Week (FAW) held to press home the various policies and procedures.

The event was held in conjunction with the global initiative by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), which badges itself as the world’s largest anti-fraud body. In 2015, Kenanga became Asia’s first corporate alliance partner to ACFE.

In a similar event last year, Kenanga weaved snakes and ladders, jigsaw, Scrabble and cyclothon into its fraud awareness programme. Adding buzz to the event was the Fraud Buzzer, a television-style quiz competition.

After last year’s six-week long programme, Maheswari said she has observed that staff are able to interact with senior management more freely, pointing out that the senior management walkabout last year did the trick.

“Now, since the ‘barriers’ have been lifted, engagements are more pleasant and cordial, and discussions and exchange of ideas are now frequently seen within the divisions and departments as all views are valued and given due consideration.

“While this practice may have been there already, it is more visible after the launch of the FAW programme last year and the momentum has been very promising,” she said.