Economic Crime

Economic Crime

ECONOMIC crime and fraud are becoming common, affec ting people’s lives and their livelihood. Malaysia, as it forges new links in businesses locally and internationally, will be exposed to sophisticated fraud and cyber scams.

The cyber age also means that organisations, corporations and individuals can lose millions at the click of a button. Organisations recognise the need to respond to this pervasive risk, where specialist skills are needed to prevent, detect, identify and deal with economic crime using information and communication technology tools.

The establishment of the Institute of Crime and Criminology at HELP University in 2006 was a timely move to provide education and training, and to nurture field professionals in the areas of economic crime and fraud management.

HELP vice-chancellor and president Datuk Dr Paul Chan had the vision that such an institute would provide indepth training to people interested in furthering their skills to combat sophisticated crimes of this nature.

In 2010, the institute began offering the Master of Science in Economic Crime Management, a programme specially developed to train specialists to prevent economic crime in all spheres of economic and commercial activities.

“Currently, we are the only one offering such master’s in Asia-Pacific and it is one of the best in the world,” said Datuk Akhbar Satar, director of the Institute of Crime and Criminology and a senior research fellow at HELP’s ELM Graduate School.

Akhbar, who joined HELP University in 2006, has more than 30 years of investigative experience, including 18 years at the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), where he held senior positions.

As the current president of Transparency International Malaysia, Akhbar has investigated many cases of fraud by senior high-ranking officers. He is also founder and president of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE – Malaysian Chapter) and is currently practising as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

The 22-month master’s programme covers a comprehensive set of topics, such as white collar crime, corporate crime, corruption and transnational money laundering, and includes tools and techniques used to detect fraud, such as forensic accounting, legislation and inter-government protocols, polygraph, security administration, corruption and psychological tests.

There are also theoretical studies covering crucial areas like organised crime, cybercrime and terrorism, including subversion. The institute has students from all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, Maldives, China and Kazakhstan.

“Economic crime is rampant. According to the ACFE Global Fraud Survey studies and statistics this year, in 2014 showed that on average, an organisation loses five per cent of its revenues are lost due to corruption.

“There may be a need to set up a compliance or integrity unit in corporations to strengthen internal compliance policy. You need people with specialised qualification and expertise.”

What makes the HELP programme superior, Akhbar says, is that the lec – turers are industry practitioners themselves. They include bankers, certified fraud examiners, criminologists, law enforcement officials, forensic accountants and psychologists, all having extensive experience in economic crime management.

Akhbar says those who have gone through the course would have learned about managing and solving fraud and economic crime cases. Classes are conducted in the evening and students have to complete 12 modules —eight core and four electives.

Seventy per cent of the assessment is based on course work and the rest on exams. Students also need to complete an applied research project on a topic that they choose.

The prominent graduates include Englishman David Stearman, a police detective for 30 years and financial investigator with the economic crime squad in London.

“The degree provided me with a broader understanding of Malaysian law and fraud cases. Class discussions with fellow practitioners added to the value of the learning environment and provided an extra dynamic in the sharing of practical experiences.”

Another graduate is Bank Islam Malaysia chief operating officer for business support, Wahid Ali Mohd Khalil.

“As my work involves investigating negligence and fraud cases, the course helps complement my knowledge with the latest developments and tools, via a structured learning process.”

Since 2012, the Institute has published its monograph series of articles written by its graduates, as well as professionals, on economic crime.

Akhbar sees great potential in terms of growth for the programme, given the increased number of economic crime cases and cybercrime in Malaysia.

For information, contact the Economic Crime Management unit at 03-2711 2000 (ext 5109) or email

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