WHAT IS FORENSIC ACCOUNTING?
Investigative accounting uses one’s accounting acumen to investigate possible fraudsters or other criminal activity and prepare findings in a simple format (supported by appropriate data). This is then used in legal proceedings to help conclude an ongoing dispute. Forensic accountants, by common sense, must have excellent analytical, cognitive, and deductive skills to extrapolate information from complex financial and business data and put it into a concise, well-reported presentation. Research in detail.
The program requires an understanding of three key terms:
“Forensic accounting,” “medical forensic investigation,” and “medical forensic audit.” Recent exams show that students have memorized the definitions or meanings of these terms but have yet to understand them. The terms are not strictly defined in the regulatory guidelines, and the meaning of investigative accounting is quite broad:
It is the application of accounting skills and knowledge in cases with legal consequences. There can be many circumstances with legal consequences in which accounting may be required, the most famous of which is investigating suspected fraudulent activities.
Key applications of forensic accounting include fraud investigations, malpractice cases, and insurance claims.
An insurance claim will require specifying the amount the customer will claim from the insurance company. The first step would be to review the policy details to determine “coverage,” i.e., what is covered and any provisions that may limit the amount that can be claimed or lost. Claim validity. The second step might be to gather evidence to quantify the loss, i.e., the amount claimed. These may include claims arising from the misappropriation of property, i.e., property theft or money.
In such cases, the forensic accountant will review the inventory or cash register and purchase details to reconcile the holdings and determine the value of the stolen property or money. They will also test the reliability of the information that is being held by counting a sample of inventory or cash currently held against a customer record. Forensic accountants will not assume that there has been theft; they will consider other possibilities, such as errors in the data being kept.
ROLE OF AN EXPERT WITNESS
An expert witness differs greatly from any other witness in a legal proceeding. Most witnesses are “factual witnesses,” meaning they can only provide evidence of what they have seen, done, or heard. On top of that, they couldn’t give their opinion on any of the questions they testified to. On the other hand, an expert witness is specifically required to give his opinion on a particular question.
An accountant may be asked to testify as a professional witness, an actual or expert witness. To testify as expert witnesses, they must be an expert. In addition, they must demonstrate expertise, meaning their opinion is valuable to the court. This means not only specialized knowledge of accounting but also expertise in the specific area of accounting to which they testify.
A witness is supposed to provide a written report/statement to the court and may also be required to attend the hearing to testify in person and to be cross-examined by the “other party.”
Forensic accounting contracts are agreed-upon procedural contracts, not assurance contracts. Therefore, forensic accountants will not give a guaranteed opinion – this is the auditor’s role when looking at the amount of loss included in the financial statements.
This usually involves determining an appropriate value or quantifying the loss as outlined above; This is quite different from an assurance engagement, where the audit team will review the amount determined by the client.
As an agreed-upon procedures engagement, the forensic accountant will typically prepare a report for the client outlining their findings based on the scope agreed in the commitment letter. This report may be sent to management, usually in fraud cases, or to the insurance company. In addition, a witness statement/report to be submitted to the court/arbitrator may be required in addition to or instead of the client’s report.
PROCEDURE AND EVIDENCE
Any method of gathering evidence can be used in an investigative accounting contract – this is not a limited assurance contract where the procedures may be limited to investigative procedures and analysis.
Forensic duties will include a detailed and thorough review of all available documents and electronic evidence. The accountant’s opinion must be argued and supported by evidence. Their opinion cannot be objective if it is based solely on what they are told; they must attest to this information.
INSIGHTS AND TECHNIQUES IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING
FORENSIC ACCOUNTING TECHNIQUES
- Financial proof examination
- . Performing any forensic research to trace funds and identify assets for recovery.
- Using personalized software to format and extract the software’s findings.
- Prepare final forensic reports from the data they would have collected.
- Be familiar with accounting and auditing standards and protocols
- Offer legal support in the form of acting as an expert witness (as and when required), backing their statements with graphical representations to support their evidence.
It should be noted that some forensic accountants are assigned to tasks such as civil disputes. In contrast, others handle government entities, banks, and so forth, usually requiring two slightly different skill sets and approaches.
TWO KEY METHODS OF FORENSIC ACCOUNTING
1) THE DIRECT METHOD (TRANSACTION METHOD)
This area of forensic accounting deals with investigating canceled cheques, invoices, breaches of contracts, and agreements, investigations into public records, conducting interviews with company employees, creating a cash flow statement over a given period, notices by an accountant, and more.
2) THE INDIRECT METHOD
This method of forensic accounting can be broken down into three main categories, namely the Cash T Method (also called the Source and Application of Funds Method), i.e., The Net Worth Method, and the Bank Deposit Method. well, now give a brief overview of each:
I) THE CASH T METHOD (THE SOURCE AND APPLICATION OF FUNDS METHOD)
The Cash T Method is usually utilized when an individual or company’s books and records do not clearly show their income, leading to a suspicion that they may have omitted some of their earnings for a particular period.
The Source and Application Method measures money spent on lifestyle against money spent on assets and investments to check for any noticeable discrepancies. The aspect of measuring inputs versus costs makes these two methods often comparable.
II) EQUITY METHOD
Under this method, a person’s total net worth is calculated at the beginning and end of a specified period. Then, net worth is added to the non-deductible cost of living, which increases net worth. Suppose there is a discrepancy between what they declare and the calculated net worth. In that case, the forensic accountant can investigate the reason for the difference.
III) BANK DEPOSIT METHOD
Bank deposits are reconciled with total spending in a given year. They calculate net deposits using a specific formula. First, the difference between the account, the transfer, and the check back is subtracted from the total deposit. Then, total cash expenditures are added to these net deposits to calculate total revenue. To find the total amount from “unknown sources,” the number of receipts is compared with the amount from known sources.
Suppose those numbers end up being significantly different. In that case, forensic accountants can drill down into the origins of unknown sources and call anyone involved in the investigation for an interview. They will also chart and track information to help figure out exactly what the “unknown” amount is.