Compliance Lesson from a Baby Camel!

By Anis Ahmed, Founder & CEO of Unitor
Chairperson of Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists’ (ACFCS) MENA Chapter.

“Once upon a time there lived a camel with her baby. One day the baby camel and her mother were talking. The baby camel asked, “Mother, why do we have humps?” The mother replied, “Our humps are for storing water so that we can survive in the desert”.

Why do we have rounded feet, mother? The mother replied, because they are meant to help us walk comfortably in the desert. These legs help us move around in the sand.

Mother, why are our eyelashes so long? “To protect our eyes from the desert dust and sand. They are the protective covers for the eyes”, replied the mother camel.

The baby camel thought for a while and said,

“So we have humps to store water for desert journeys, rounded feet to keep us comfortable when we walk in the desert sand, and long eyelashes to protect us from sand and dust during a desert storm. Then, what are we doing in a zoo?”

Moral of the story: Your strengths, skills, intent, and knowledge are useless if you don’t use them during the storm. 

Most of the Compliance, Ethics, Anti-fraud, and Investigation officers (let’s call them all as compliance professionals) do possess the requisite skills; however, they see themselves caged in the zoo – they do not believe that they are equipped to survive the challenges of the desert.  

From Eron to Wirecard the Chief Compliance Officers must have  felt  caged in the zoo, too. Wirecard is to Germany what Enron was to the United States. In wirecard scandal Although, CCO  acknowledged that the powerful people in the company were covering up the fraud scandal; he not only changed his ethical position later on, but also criticized the investigation process favoring the corrupt Executive Board. He couldn’t stand up against something not only fundamentally wrong but also unethical.


“The most important trait of a good compliance professional is their integrity.”

Most of us do believe that our personal integrity is high but fascinatingly enough, time and again we do not stand by it when challenging situations arise. In such scenario, we certainly must agree that our personal integrity goes down the drain and it is as good as not having one: as a compliance professional you are expected to stand up for your beliefs for the greater good of the organization and the society. 

Former Commissioner of SEC, Dr. Cynthia Glassman called on companies to designate Chief Compliance Officers as “Corporate Responsibility Officers”. Yes, as compliance professionals we do have corporate and fiduciary responsibilities. Just like the oath taken by officers in law enforcement, physicians, and judiciary; compliance professionals also symbolically take an oath to protect the company by standing up for what is right and what is required. We must believe in earning every penny of our wages by doing what is expected of us as compliance professionals, and not merely by being in the payroll.

If you believe you might not have the spine to act righteously when the situation so deems; then perhaps, it’s time to consider a career change. Or grow a spine, seek to be mentored by those in the desert, dealing with sand storms. 


Don’t let anyone ask you, what are you doing in a zoo?

About Author:

Anis Ahmed is the Founder & CEO of Unitor, a Digital Identity & Payments Solutions provider.He also advises financial institutions on Anti-Fraud, Corporate Investigations, ABC and Whistleblowing Programs.

Anis comes with over two decades of experience, mainly in global and Middle-Eastern banks. He has spent 19+ years in Anti-Fraud and Corporate Investigations domains in banks such as Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.

He is a Certified Fraud Examiner from ACFE, USA and also has several certifications in Advanced Anticorruption, Compliance & Regulatory Programs, Privacy Law & Data Protection, and Transnational Organized Crimes. He is also the Chairperson of Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists’ (ACFCS) MENA Chapter.