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Deep forensic accountancy

Member: Nifa

Mention of forensic accounting made it onto television again recently when one of the investigating officers in Channel 4’s No Offence realised that the team would need to go into “deep forensic accountancy” in a case.

The team had been investigating a politician it knew was up to her eyes in a plot that included the murder of a police officer, but they had no evidence. However, when there was a further murder, the forensic investigator of a different kind – as in physical forensics – found evidence at the murder scene that the suspect’s business had been supplying furniture to the deceased but at a highly inflated price. The team then realised it was likely that the murdered man had been funding the politician’s campaign using the extra cash. However, first they had to prove it.

Chasing the money started with a phone call to the business to find the normal retail price of the furniture and then comparing that with the invoice the deceased had been sent. The difference was many thousands of pounds, so they knew they were on to something.

In this case, the team was unable to interview the purchaser of the furniture, as he was dead, but the paperwork and interviews with the accounts department told the rest of the story.

Many people think that forensic accountancy is a dry, number-led exercise but it always involves people, many of whom are driven by fear or greed. Therefore, while the numbers tell part of the story, interviews and documentation between people in the money chain can fill in any gaps.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Forensic accountants are often called in not only to examine numbers, but also to scrutinise complex links and paper trails between people and businesses. Oftentimes, this will help to unveil crucial pieces of evidence.”

Author: Roger Isaacs 26 October 2018

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