Fighting fraud and corruption as a society

With the collaboration of the Externado University Public Accounting Faculty, the National Institute for Research and Fraud Prevention (INIF) held, at our House of Studies, the first international Anti-Fraud Day.

The meeting objective was to promote a culture of honesty in Colombian society and integrate the main strategic actors generating actions to create a common front in the fight against fraud.

The first-time meeting was held with participation by renowned academics who have studied the subject, such as Juan Carlos Henao, Externado Rector; Juan Manuel Guerrero, Accounting Faculty Dean; Cecilia María Vélez, Rector of the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University; Eduardo Behrentz, engineer and EL TIEMPO columnist, among others.  The meeting left several tasks for Colombian society, currently struggling against this evil afflicting everyone.

During the meeting, the guest panelists paid special attention to the role of the academia in the training of exemplary citizens to fight fraud and corruption. Cecilia María Vélez, current Rector of the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University and former Minister of Education, emphasized the importance of creating long-term goals modifying culture and, particularly, start educating to be good citizens and eradicate the thoughts of “easiness” and fraud with which many Colombians are formed.

“For this, I suggest we start to train students with citizenship skills, giving individuals the power to know and know-how; and to know how to act constructively in a democratic society,” said the former Minister of Education.

For his part, Eduardo Behrentz, an engineer and Professor at the Universidad de Los Andes, strongly criticized today’s society in which the law and morals are guided by “easiness” standards and justified with “if he did it, so can I.”

“Our society is accustomed to viewing illegal behavior as natural. In Latin America, non-compliance with the law became naturalized for reasons such as family solidarity, the fight against injustice, and the protection of honor,” he noted.

In light of the above, the guest said corrupt practices are not isolated and occasional, nor an exclusive politics phenomenon, but deep-seated trends in our culture, and although the role of control entities is important, their performance will always be limited if society does not change its way of thinking and acting.

Francisco Reyes Villamizar, current Superintendent of Corporations and PhD in Law from the University of Tilburg (Netherlands), spoke about the negative effects of corruption, including reduction in efficiency, inequity increase, deficiency in public services to the neediest, the loss of foreign investment incentives, and the misuse or loss of public resources.

For his part, Juan Carlos Henao, Rector of the Externado de Colombia University, spoke about the four volumes of ” “La corruption en Colombia” (Corruption in Colombia) project of the series “Así habla el Externado” (Thus speaks the Externado), recently introduced.

Rector Henao spoke about each of the articles, which analyze political corruption and society, private corruption, and corruption, State, and legal instruments.

Additionally, he stressed the importance of research on the current situation the country is experiencing; the corruption practice Colombians rejected in an anti-corruption vote, and encouraged members of the Academia and those in other professional fields such as accounting, to be part of the change from their area.

The symposium was divided into three thematic areas: ethics, control, and compliance; cybersecurity and fraud; and new technologies.