back to listing

Experts at finding evidence – 10 Feb 2014

Member: Nifa

Forensic accountants have been in the news recently, as their expert services have been used by supermarkets which fear that they have overpaid suppliers in the past and need proof of transactions going back as far as six years.  However, when describing the supermarkets’ policy, the Groceries Code Adjudicator seems to see it as a problem, telling a Westminster conference that employing these professionals is causing ‘horrific’ problems to suppliers and costing huge amounts of money.

This is because the evidently extremely thorough accountants have done their job and found evidence of overpayment, meaning that suppliers either have to pay the bill or provide evidence that nothing is due, which Christine Tacon suggests is “impossible to do, especially where those directly involved in the transaction had moved on”.  However, what Mrs Tacon is missing is that forensic accountants could equally be employed by the suppliers to find the evidence to refute the supermarkets’ claims.

Forensic accountants work as much to prove innocence as guilt, so if a supplier is facing a huge bill it doesn’t think it owes, then it could employ investigative experts too, who would undoubtedly find any evidence that might exist to disprove the supermarket’s claim, thereby more than saving the cost of hiring them.  The way forensic accountants work is to trawl through the records, sometimes using specialist software, and, in these cases, would find examples of what was paid, when it was paid, what the payment was for and who received it.  They can present the evidence they find in a professional and compelling manner.

Equally, the accountants could find proof of where suppliers have been underpaid, as this is another problem of which they have complained.  They could do this by going through old email chains, paper records and the accounts to find examples of underpayment.

Author: Roger Isaacs – 10 February 2014

Share on Twitter