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Accounting detectives

Member: Nifa

It is a measure of how much financial investigation is part of the current mind-set when references to ‘bank account anomalies’ appear in popular TV shows.  In the first episode of the BBC’s New Tricks series, which regularly pulls in 7 million viewers, the detectives investigating the theft of stolen jewellery looked into a suspect’s bank accounts to see whether there were any unusual movements.  

As it turned out there were, but the man under the microscope was able to explain them and he turned out not to be the culprit anyway, just a red herring for the armchair sleuths to follow.  As in art, so in life, because when the authorities suspect anyone of receiving ill-gotten gains, they call in the forensic accountants, who do exactly the same thing; they look into accounts and monitor lifestyle to see whether what appears to be the picture on the surface is the same as what’s really going on.

Using sophisticated software and employing cutting edge techniques, the forensic accountants can spot anomalies very quickly and because official bodies are becoming increasingly ‘joined up’, can easily see whether money that was supposed to come from one source actually did.  They are also expert at following even the most complex money trails, so the picture portrayed on screen of villains hiding vast sums with ease, is now purely fictional.

Then, once they have all the evidence in hand, the forensic accountants build a case that can be used by prosecuting or defence lawyers and which will stand up in court – in the real world as well as on film.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 25 August 2014

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