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Every available tool

Member: Nifa

People who carry out fraud will always leave a trace of their wrongdoing, however clever they think they have been.  Some think that if they use a complex network of bank accounts or set up shell companies, for example, no one will be able to work out what they have done but they have reckoned without the skills, experience and tools of forensic accountants.

These experts look at every thread in the bigger tapestry, from text messages to emails to interviews with associates. For example, digital forensics experts who helped journalists to investigate the massive trove of offshore finance documents from Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the heart of the recent tax avoidance scandal, say they used specialist software to process some of the leaked information.

According to one of the investigators it took roughly two weeks for the company’s software to make the 2.6 terabytes of information searchable and several additional weeks to process hard-to-peruse documents such as photographs and faxes.

This software can look at a document’s constituent parts and create a programme or script that will split it apart and ‘ingest’ it. The data can then be tagged and categorised within the system without damaging its native form. The speed of this is incredible too, as the system can ingest a minimum of 1,500 different file formats and get through a terabyte of data within 24 hours.

It’s a good job such tools, coupled with experience, are available, as the leak – or whistleblowing activity, depending on which paper you read – has uncovered millions of emails, millions of database files and millions of PDFs from the law firm, which appears to account for every document from the firm in a 40-year period. Then on top of this, there will be many thousands of interviews until a clear picture of what actually happened is uncovered.

For advice on how Milsted Langdon’s forensic accountants can assist you, please contact us today.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 15 April 2016

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