Following previous successes in 2016 and 2018, on 13-14 November 2019 Deloitte and partner organisations hosted the third instalment of the New Zealand Fraud Film Festival at the ASB Theatre in Auckland, with record numbers in attendance across the two days. The Fraud Film Festival aims to raise awareness, promote debate of key issues surrounding fraud and foster cross-industry collaboration in the fight against it.

The Festival was split over two days - one with more of a business and industry focus and the other tailored more towards the general public.

Day one

The first day of the Fraud Film Festival started with a welcome from Ian Tuke, Festival Chair and Forensic Partner, who reminded us to consider the potential threats from fraud and other financial crimes portrayed in the films are present to New Zealand.

The following documentaries were shown on day one:

  1. The Kleptokrats, covering the Malaysian 1MDB scandal;
  2. Inside Lehman Brothers, covering the culture within the Lehman Brothers prior to their collapse in 2008;
  3. The Defenders, covering cyber security and the security professionals who fight cyber threats; and
  4. The Panama Papers, covering the massive data leak involving the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca highlighting global corruption at the top level including government.

After each film, panels of New Zealand industry experts discussed the key topics.

As we watched the four documentaries on day one, a recurring theme throughout the panel discussions was whether these sorts of fraudulent acts could happen in New Zealand.

The general conclusion around New Zealand's susceptibility to fraud was that New Zealand has a stronger anti-fraud control framework in place than many other countries - however there is still room for improvement. A fraud similar to the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia is extremely unlikely to happen with NZ Super Fund in New Zealand, yet organisations here are definitely not immune to having a rotten corporate culture or cyber-attacks. Thanks to the internet these are not limited by geography.

Other interesting themes that came from the panel discussions included that our people are absolutely key to detecting and preventing fraud, and that whistleblowers need further protection not only in New Zealand but also in other jurisdictions. The panellists discussed the experiences of whistleblowers and how they often leave organisations due to punishment, mistreatment or because they have lost faith and trust in their employer. A shift in thinking, culture and legislation is needed to stop persecution of whistleblowers and to provide them with more protection.

Day two

The second day started with a short film of stories told by Kiwis who have been victims of fraudulent scams. The expert panel – which included Natasha McFlinn, winner of the 2019 Anti-Fraud Award - discussed scam prevention and noted the human consequences of fraud, the loss of trust and a tendency for victims to withdraw from the financial system. The audience at this session included the residents of a retirement village, who turned up to learn more about how to avoid scams.

The day also included a visit from Garth Bray and Gill Higgins from the popular TVNZ show, FairGo. The investigative reporters shared a few clips from the show and discussed their work in helping Kiwis fight against scammers.

The discussions with panel experts and FairGo reporters revealed that the general public are the victims who suffer the greatest losses from fraudulent activities. This realisation calls for everyone, corporations and individuals, to take proactive steps to guard New Zealand against fraudsters.

All in all, the 2019 Fraud Film Festival was an illuminating reflection on the pressing issues that impact both businesses and the general public, and a great opportunity to discuss crucial risk topics with New Zealand leaders. We look forward to attending again next year!

To find out how we can assist your organisation with detecting, preventing and responding to fraudulent activities, visit our Risk Advisory Forensic homepage or contact Ian Tuke, Forensic Partner (ituke@deloitte.co.nz).

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