Following the Money Trail – 11 March 2013
Finding the assets of criminals can be very difficult when people are determined to hide them but the case is made even more difficult when the perpetrators know exactly what they are doing, as in the recent case of two professionals who laundered more than £1.8m of criminal cash from VAT fraud.
However, forensic accountants, such as those used by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), who brought the case, are trained to look beyond what is presented as ‘normal’ and deal with the business realities of situations.
The investigative team found the trail of money, which had been laundered through a complex web of bank accounts, first in Greece, Cyprus and Switzerland and then through banks in the UK.
They did this through investigating and analysing the financial and other evidence and then communicating their findings to HMRC in the form of reports and collections of documents.
There is no record as to whether the accountants involved assisted in the legal proceedings or testified in court as expert witnesses but this is all part of the job for the forensic accountant.
Of course, forensic accountants are also routinely used to find out where assets have been hidden once criminals have had confiscation orders served on them according to the rules of POCA.
As they were jailed for a total of six and a half years, a spokesperson for HMRC said that a confiscation hearing to recover the criminal proceeds of the fraud will take place towards the end of this month, before which no doubt the forensic accountants will be hard at work.
Author: Roger Isaacs, 11 March 2013
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