I'm a CFE

Nigel Palmer, CFE

Security director at Mars, Inc.

Nigel Palmer, CFE, might be a native of Wales (and a dedicated rugby player), but he’s quite comfortable in the Middle East and Africa. As a former Royal Marines Commando, he learned strategies that he still applies to challenging fraud battles as security director at Mars, Inc. Through his tenure, he’s developed cross-sector business experiences and contacts that help him apply fraud examination principles in diverse geographical and cultural regions.

I was born and raised in Cardiff, Wales. Growing up I played sports of all kinds, particularly rugby union. I also liked being close to nature, whether that be in the mountains of Wales or on our stunning beaches.

Watching the Falklands War take place during my last year in high school in 1982 had a profound effect on me. It was then that I decided I wanted to serve my country. My father, a former soldier, as were all the senior men in my family, suggested I attempt Royal Marines Commando training because it has the reputation for being the toughest test in the military world.

After high school, I passed the Royal Marines Commando training and went on to serve my country. I then did a stint as a U.K. police officer before jumping into the banking and insurance world. In 1995 I moved with my family to Bahrain and became the country manager for Lloyds of London Insurance brokerage before running two businesses for a Middle East trading company. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I was recruited to the private security industry for a range of multinational companies across the Middle East and North Africa — operating predominantly in the high-risk locations of Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan. Then in 2006, I joined Motorola Ltd. in Dubai as its regional security manager for the Middle East and Africa. In 2012, Mars Incorporated invited me to become an associate based in Dubai where I still live.

Being a CFE means that I'm connected to a very large network of professionals and like-minded people spanning the globe.

In many countries across Africa, India and the Middle East, fraud is perpetrated at the highest levels of government and institutions, and that filters down to all echelons of society. From government misuse of public funds to large-scale kickbacks, we witness fraudulent acts almost weekly. At Mars, our associates globally are fully aware of our desire to act in an ethical manner.  We’re guided by our five principles — quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom — and our consistent global policies and practices that apply to all associates. We feel that each of us is a caretaker and custodian with an obligation to protect Mars’ assets.

Get ahead of the curve by gaining a solid understanding of what’s current now and researching how the next evolution of fraud might manifest. Many countries are fast becoming cashless societies, so we could see an increase in complex financial crimes.

While we see a myriad of fraudulent acts and illegal schemes globally, the reasons for committing those crimes are the same: pressure, opportunity and rationalization — the Fraud Triangle.

The coursework leading up to the CFE Exam took a lot of my spare time. Then I passed it, and I knew that it was all worth it. The knowledge I gained from the coursework, the excellent review course and the ongoing ACFE events globally have enabled me to develop my investigative skills and methodology.

Being a CFE means that I’m connected to a very large network of professionals and like-minded people spanning the globe. It’s a great comfort to know that every member of the ACFE is facing similar issues to me, and I know I can leverage those peers to learn from their unique experiences.

The global insurance markets afford criminals many opportunities to commit fraud. In this environment, extra diligence is required of me to ensure we get it right every time.

When I began to really comprehend the impact that fraud has on its victims, I knew I wanted to play a part in the detection of fraud, even if it’s only a small part. As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as victimless crime.” During my career, I’ve learned not to judge, be empathetic, stick to my script and understand when it’s better to remain silent. Look for facts, not guilt.

I’m a keen supporter of rugby union — I was fortunate enough to have played in the Rugby World Cup 1999 qualifying rounds. I love traveling to new places and discovering different cultures, and spending quality time with my family, friends and good people. Simple pleasures but these are the important ones to me.

Emily Primeaux, CFE, is associate editor of Fraud Magazine. Contact her at eprimeaux@ACFE.com.