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Expert forensic accountants can help prevent fraud

Member: Nifa

It was announced earlier this week that the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) has written off the £1.1m losses it incurred when it was the victim of mandate fraud but that it is now setting up an in-house team to target financial crime prevention.  Forensic accountants are generally thought of as being the experts that firms bring in to find out where money has gone rather than finding ways it could go missing and setting up safeguards to prevent loss, but these experts are adept at either measure and it would be in the interests of business owners to have their financial procedures checked on a regular basis to avoid such a catastrophe.

Because they spend their time tracing money, they have seen every kind of attempt to hide fraud, however sophisticated the methods used, and are also experienced in every industry sector, so can’t even be deterred by unusual or quirky accounting practices.

Rather like a surveyor, who looks beyond the plaster and fresh paint to the actual structure of a building, a forensic accountant will look closely into a firm’s financial statements and whole accounts setup.  However, unlike a regular auditor, who merely checks whether financial statements comply with accounting regulations, a forensic auditor will take an even closer and detailed look at the statements and methods of accounting used to see if there are any irregularities or, in the worst case, if fraud is involved.

In NEST’s case, they are now shutting the stable doors after the horse has bolted but at least they should be free from fraud in the future, which is something even the smallest firm could emulate if they call in the experts.

Author: Roger Isaacs – 21 July 2014

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