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NigeriaDecides2023

Heritage Bank, PWC, Deloitte canvass use of technology to tackle fraud

Heritage Bank Plc, has called on internal auditors of banks to adopt the various digital technologies to prevent fraud and annul the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the financial ecosystem.

Speaking at the just concluded 47th quarterly meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN), Ifie Sekibo, managing director/CEO, Heritage Bank disclosed that for improved banking operations and safer financial system for stakeholders, internal auditors must be dynamic and quick to adopt various digital measures.

Raising the alarming impact of fraudulent activities in the banking sector, Sekibo quoted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020, revealing that the total cost of cybercrimes is worth an eye-watering $42 billion, which was cash taken straight off companies’ bottom line, whilst 13% of those who had experienced fraud said they had lost $50 million-plus.

Sekibo, who spoke on the theme, “Elevating Internal Audit’s Role in the Face of Emerging Risks and Opportunities” organised virtually and hosted by the Heritage Bank, urged, “While it was sufficient for yesterday’s auditor to understand regular and routine banking practices such as credit, treasury, etc in his traditional assurance role, for him to be relevant in harnessing the opportunities in today’s business world, he must become versed in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, fraud management, regulatory pronouncements, forensics etc and having equipped himself, present balanced, objective audit reports to Executive Management while striking the right balance between the assurance and consulting responsibilities.”

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In address, titled, “Elevating internal audit role in the face of emerging risks and opportunities,” Ibukun Beecroft, partner risk advisory at Deloitte, noted that the banking industry in Nigeria has adopted various digital measures to keep the business running and delivering services to the customers but there was a need for Internal Audit (IA) positioned to provide the required assurance and consulting services in the face of the changes and attendant risk, particularly increased cyber-risks.

Quoting 2018 Financial Stability Report by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she stated that bank recorded 25,029 confirmed cases of fraud and this resulted in a loss of N2.21 billion. More than 90 percent of fraud cases in 2018 were perpetrated via technologically driven channels.

Beecroft warned that the ever-changing landscape and evolving risks in the banking industry could render the current internal audit plan obsolete. According to her, internal auditors should reprioritise the audit plan as soon as possible to provide assurance over the most consequential risks while being cognisant of the impact on operations.

Yetunde Oladeji, director internal audit services at PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited (PWC), who spoke on the theme, “Elevating IA’s role to meet today’s emerging risks,” advised the banking sector to prioritise digitisation and flexible workforce strategies to ensure its ability and adaptation to rapidly changing circumstances.

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