The integration of accounting, auditing and investigative skills yields the specialty known as Forensic Accounting. "Forensic", according to the Webster's Dictionary means, "Belonging to, used in or suitable to courts of judicature or to public discussion and debate." "Forensic accounting", provides an accounting analysis that is suitable to the court which will form the basis for discussion, debate and ultimately dispute resolution. Forensic accounting encompasses both litigation support and investigative accounting. As forensic accountants, we utilize accounting, auditing and investigative skills when conducting an investigation. Equally critical is our ability to respond immediately and to communicate financial information clearly and concisely in a courtroom setting.
A Forensic Accountant can be of assistance in various ways, including:
- Private investigators
Forensic investigations often relate to criminal investigations on behalf of police forces. For example, a Forensic Accountant may be retained by regional or local police forces and organizations such as the Law Society.
A Forensic Accountant's report is prepared with the objective of presenting evidence in a professional and concise manner.
Shareholders' and Partnership Disputes
These assignments often involve a detailed analysis of numerous years accounting records to quantify the issues in dispute. For example, a common issue that often arises is the compensation and benefits received by each of the disputing shareholders or partners.
Personal Injury Claims / Motor Vehicle Accidents
A Forensic Accountant is often asked to quantify the economic losses resulting from a motor vehicle accident. A Forensic Accountant needs to be familiar with the legislation in place which pertains to motor vehicle accidents.
Cases of medical malpractice and wrongful dismissal often involve similar issues in calculating the resulting economic damages.
Business Interruption / Other Types of Insurance Claims
Insurance policies differ significantly as to their terms and conditions. Accordingly, these assignments involve a detailed review of the policy to investigate coverage issues and the appropriate method of calculating the loss.
A Forensic Accountant is often asked to assist from either an insured or insurer's perspective in the settlement of a case.
Examples of these types of assignments include; business interruptions, property losses and employee dishonesty (fidelity) claims.
Business/Employee Fraud Investigations
Business investigations can involve funds tracing, asset identification and recovery, forensic intelligence gathering and due diligence reviews.
Employee fraud investigations often involve procedures to determine the existence, nature and extent of fraud and may concern the identification of a perpetrator. These investigations often entail interviews of personnel who had access to the funds and a detailed review of the documentary evidence.
Matrimonial disputes from a Forensic Accounting point-of-view often involve the tracing, locating and evaluation of assets. The assets to be evaluated and valued may be businesses, property or other assets.
Business Economic Losses
Examples of assignments involving business economic losses include; contract disputes, construction claims, expropriations, product liability claims, trademark and patent infringements and losses stemming from a breach of a non-competition agreement.
These investigations are often approached from two different but complimentary perspectives, these being: