Q&A with Ramesh Moosa, EY’s Forensic & Integrity Services Leader

23 March 2021 Consultancy.asia 5 min. read

Ramesh Moosa is EY’s Asean and Singapore Forensic & Integrity Services Leader, leading a team of professionals across offices in ten countries. Three months into his new role, Ramesh sat down with Consultancy.org to discuss his new mantle, the changing fraud and risk landscape, and how EY differentiates itself in a crowded landscape. 

Congrats on your new role. What do you see as the top priorities for EY’s Forensic & Integrity practice this year?

Due to tighter regulations and the impact of Covid-19, compliance and internal audit functions are under tremendous stress to recalibrate to cope with the changing fraud risk landscape. The extensive EY network of local experienced forensic teams and laboratories in Asean is our competitive advantage – as clients seek our help to assist with their compliance and forensic-related work during the pandemic. 

At the same time, the EY Compliance Office of the Future Technology Solutions can help companies transform their capabilities to address complex and tedious compliance and investigation challenges. An example is an EY software-as-a-service solution developed to help a pharmaceutical company to manage its third-party risks. A new third party can be approved within hours – a process that took months previously. This helps the company to accelerate business deals and transactions while lowering effort and costs.

Ramesh Moosa, Forensic & Integrity Services Leader, ASEAN and Singapore, EY

There is also heightened interest in whistle-blowing programs, investigating cybercrime incidents, ISO 37001 anti-bribery and corruption program development, implementing fraud detection systems, managed services as well as third-party audits to address risks including corruption, anti-money laundering and sanctions, modern slavery and data privacy.

The EY Forensic & Integrity teams are looking to help clients achieve greater transparency and compliance in fraud risk and integrity as they work toward recovery in a post-pandemic landscape. 

The fraud and risk landscape is growing rapidly on the back of Covid-19. What are some of the key post-Covid-19 recovery strategies organisations across sectors should consider?

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly heightened risks of unethical business conduct due to disruption to supply chains, work patterns and reduction in staff levels. The United Nations backed the view in their last year’s “Recover with integrity” campaign emphasising that Covid-19 recovery can only be achieved with integrity – in both the government and private sectors. 

With environmental, social and governance (ESG) as key evaluation criteria associated with sustainable investing, long-term investors are carefully selecting organisations that operate with integrity based off a strong governance culture and an effective compliance programmes. The legal and regulatory requirements are also becoming more stringent across the board – from enhanced penalties to making senior leaders personally liable for fraud and corruption.

Hence, as organisations review their recovery strategies from the Covid-19 situation, building transparency and integrity into their response is critical. An important area is strengthening governance framework and embedding integrity into the fabric of the organisation’s culture. The governance framework is the formal structure for compliance management, together with policies that guide organisational behaviour.

However, employees also take their cue from experiences, and their behaviour is often shaped by the words and actions of the board and senior management. 

Another area of importance is to ensure transparency and disclosure to stakeholders. Companies must recognise that embracing integrity means viewing transparency and disclosures as more than just for compliance. It means not only focusing on materiality, but also putting information sharing that would help shareholders make informed investment decisions as a top priority. Investigations have shown that companies with failed integrity agendas fell short of this standard. 

Lastly, organisations should monitor fraud risk and integrity issues and respond effectively. Here is where organisations need to better leverage technology, data and AI to transform the compliance function to be forward-looking, data-driven and automated to the fullest extent possible.

With cyber incidents escalating significantly during Covid-19, organisations must also be ready to respond to cyber incidents whether it is ransomware, data breach or business email compromise, and where required, engage independent digital forensic and incident response specialists to lead the investigations. 

When organisations fail to respond swiftly and competently in managing cyber incidents, regulators and stakeholders are likely to develop doubts over managements’ ability and this will lead to an erosion of trust and reputation that can be difficult to recover from. 

How does EY differentiate itself in the market for forensic & integrity services?

At EY Forensic & Integrity Services, we deliver value to our clients by bringing together broad sector experience, deep subject-matter knowledge, experienced professionals and proven technology to help organisations instill a culture of integrity in their business, reduce risks and enhance business performance. 

EY has more than 4,000 forensic professionals in 154 locations across 73 countries providing real-time insight, intelligence and local response. We are able to offer end-to-end compliance, investigation and dispute-related services that can scale from small- to large-sized organisations given our unique technology and managed services solutions.