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Digging Into The Figures

Member: Nifa

News that Balfour Beatty and National Grid are investigating allegations of fraud on a multi-million pound gas mains replacement contract is a reminder that any business owner suspecting malpractice within the firm should employ a team of forensic accountants to investigate it.  According to recent reports, both organisations are investigating cash payments, backhanders and ‘sweeteners’ on the contract and a spokesman for National Grid has confirmed that it is working with the construction giant on the investigation. 

Balfour Beatty started work on the contract only last month but the GMB union has already heard allegations of bullying, mis-reporting, fraud and corruption on sites across the West Midlands.  In a letter to National Grid, the union has therefore asked for clarification on the information it has received, saying that it understands that the gas mains replacement work may have been tainted by “allegations of corrupt practice”.

In situations such as this, when allegations come to light, business owners need forensic accountants to investigate.  They do this by analysing bank accounts and highlighting anomalies, such as cash that is unaccounted for.  The accountants also carry out interviews with employees in a bid to flush out wrong-doing, such as the alleged payment for holidays, as in this case, or accepting bribes.

As experienced investigators as well as financial experts, the forensic accountants are adept at getting to the truth as much as following the money trail.  In addition, most forensic accountancy teams contain people who have specific sector experience, so in this case, they would use accountants with knowledge of the construction world, which would give them an added edge when it comes to the practices employed in the field. 

Author: Roger Isaacs – 9 May 2014

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