Investigative Accountant Melbourne
What is Investigative Accounting?
Investigative accounting deals primarily with criminal matters and is the process of determining and identifying the existence, or degree, of any illegal financial activity. Sometimes – though less commonly – investigative accounting does peruse civil matters; such as in a divorce case in which one spouse withholds hidden assets from the other and a forensic accountant is retained to investigate the matter.
Often, a forensic accountant will be tasked by a corporate entity to investigate suspected illegal engagements by an individual, or individuals, within the company. On other occasions, they may be retained by a government department to conduct an investigation into suspected criminal activity. In the latter instance, special permission may be given to engage in government sponsored hacking for the purpose of a thorough investigation. Otherwise, forensic accountants are well-versed in various software to legally acquire relevant financial data points when conducting an investigation.
With a broad range of skills to support their approach, the forensic accountant plays perhaps the most essential role in the discovery and charge of financial falsification and misconduct. And never has there been a time when this role has been as significant as it is today.
With recent advances in modern technology – the onset of the internet, increasingly advanced coding, and newer and more powerful computers –, has come greater access to more ways of committing financial offences. As such, it is with great ease that individuals and groups are doing such things as falsifying financial statements, and committing identity theft or insurance fraud. Fortunately, forensic accountants are proficient with an equally as vast skillset to identify and investigate these matters.
One of the primary means of such an investigation is electronic discovery, or “e-discovery”. Electronic discovery is a sweeping term that encompasses all investigations concerned with the examination and detection of electronic data. Using their computer, software, a network, or a combination of these, forensic accountants are able to discover digital data to assist in their investigation.
Consider for instance, that a forensic accountant is retained for the investigation of major insurance fraud. Using various networks or software, a forensic accountant will investigate relevant electronic data and files to confirm or deny the legitimacy of the respective insurance claim or claims. The forensic accountant will then compile the data, create a report for their client, and finally advise on the next course of legal action. This approach epitomises the usefulness of forensic accounting with its combination of legal and financial support.
Investigative accounting also refers to non-electronic data. In this way, the investigation does not always entail the discovery of financial data, but the interpretation of already known data. In other words, a forensic accountant may be provided with a collection of relevant files and information, and tasked to investigate them using their unique financial knowledge.
Matters of Investigation
Forensic accountants are retained for the investigation of vast and various financial offences. Because forensic accountants have specialised skills in distinct fields, investigations are supported by an individual familiarity with each financial ecosystem.
Here are some examples of the financial offences regularly investigated by forensic accountants:
– Identity theft
– Insurance fraud
– Securities fraud
– Employee theft
– Money laundering