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Finding the Money – 3 September 2013

Member: Nifa

The National Audit Office has recently announced that it will be publishing a report later this year on the management and enforcement of confiscation orders, which usually requires the services of a forensic accountant to evaluate how much they should be, although they also follow the money trail in many other matters.  Confiscation orders, which are court orders imposed on convicted criminals to recover the financial proceeds of their criminal activity, are interesting, as the amounts involved are often huge.


As the NAO reported in 2011, Government bodies annually collect over £100m through confiscation orders, although this amount continues to increase and stood at £1.2 billion as of March 2012.  However, apart from investigating for the Government, forensic accountants routinely find hidden assets in cases of divorce, business partnership dissolution or estates; in fact, in any case where one party may be trying to hide money from another or when someone suspects that they are not being given the full financial figures.


It is the forensic accountant’s job, often working with a legal team, to investigate financial transactions with a view to explaining to a client where they have lost money, or to prove that someone is telling the truth when they present a set of figures. They are also often called up to present evidence in court.  To add to the complexity, a forensic accountant is often required to look into something that has happened in the distant past, so they have to be extremely thorough, as well as patient.


Depending on the complexity of the case, there may well be hundreds, if not thousands, of documents to go through and complicated leads to follow, so a good forensic accountant is, by nature, tenacious and has an eye for detail. They are therefore definitely the people to have in your corner if the burden of proof lands on you.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 3 September 2013

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