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‘Auditing helps combat fraud and corruption’

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A well-planned internal audit is a crucial tool in the fight against corruption and fraud, two things that often appear in tandem and must, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Thursday in an address to the Cyprus Internal Audit Forum.

The Cyprus Internal Audit Forum, organised and hosted by the Cyprus Institute of Internal Auditors, was held at the Nicosia Hilton, bringing together stakeholders from both the private and public sectors.

“Fraud and corruption go hand-in-hand and appear in all countries, in all societies and all facets of the economy,” Petrides said.

“This, however, does not provide an excuse to accept them as part of our life. We have an obligation towards our society, and especially towards future generations, to make all the efforts necessary and take all the measures possible today, for their maximum mitigation and ideally their complete extinction,” he added.

The finance minister explained that auditing, when centred around compliance with the applicable regulatory frameworks, is a pivotal aspect of good governance.

Petrides said that the wider acceptance of internal audit units in Cyprus was a gradual process, coinciding with the Cypriot economy’s maturation, adding that ‘skilled, knowledgeable and experienced internal auditors have demonstrated that they can be competent, knowledgeable and reliable advisors to management and the board’.

In terms of the evolving nature of internal auditors and the profession in general, Petrides said that these are evolving along with the business environment in Cyprus, including the new threats and risks it entails.

“By delivering insights on governance, risk and control, internal audit functions provide a challenge to organisational practices and provoke positive change,” Petrides said.

The minister explained that internal auditing has a three-pronged approach to eliminate fraud.

Firstly, by preventing fraud through the implementation of internal functions and protocols; secondly, by establishing effective internal controls to detect unwanted or incompliant actions; and thirdly, by tasking qualified professionals to investigate incidents of fraudulent behaviour.

Regarding the elimination of fraud and corruption in a wider context, the minister said that it will take a collective effort to achieve this.

“To achieve this target, all people and all state institutions have to adhere to a new culture, [one] where common interest will prevail over personal interest,” he said.

“We must all understand that, by working for, by promoting and by protecting our interests as a society and as a country, we can all benefit as individuals as well,” the minister added.

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