The world of forensic accountancy may seem mysterious to the layperson but if anyone has read The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, they will have been given a clear explanation of how powerful a forensic investigation can be.
In the book, having engaged a forensic accountant, the elderly amateur sleuths can give the police a detailed picture of the finances of one of the suspects. In this case, the picture points to a solid motive for murder.
As the club’s leader points out, they needed a forensic accountant because, as laypeople, they wouldn’t be able to understand the more intricate aspects of the suspect’s finances. They needed someone who could spot anomalies in the accounts, was ‘up to speed’ with the latest technology and knew how to value companies and shares.
Of course, the average businessperson is unlikely to need a forensic accountant to shed light on a murder but forensic accountants are often brought in when business partners suspect each other of wrongdoing .
For example, if a shareholder suspects that profits or contracts may be being diverted a forensic investigation may be justified.
Similarly, if a business owner suspects fraudulent activity, a forensic accountancy firm can send in their experts to look, not just at the books, but also at the bigger picture – taking into account the personalities of the workforce and what their motives might be to defraud the firm.
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Many forensic accountancy investigations start with a mere suspicion on the part of prosecutors or claimants.
“If the suspicion is found to be supported by the evidence an investigation can lead to a court case at which the forensic accountant can provide expert witness testimony and explain what has happened in terms that are easy to understand.
“While Richard Osman’s best-seller may be a work of fiction it is always good to see the role of the forensic accountant in the limelight.”