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Forensic Accounting For Police Forces

Mark Jenner & Co Limited is happy to examine all cases of fraud and financial crime for the prosecuting authorities and prepare an independent expert accountant’s report that can be supported by oral evidence in court. Our input can include an examination of the evidence to assist with the preparation of the case or the provision of a response to the defence’s own expert.

We attend an initial conference, carry out a detailed review of case papers and prepare a quotation without obligation. Often this initial free review can provide useful input into a case.

Investigating fraud for the regulators

When I set out to develop a fraud speciality within forensic accounting over twenty years ago, my focus was on providing expert accounting witness and fraud investigation services for the regulators. I was appointed as an external investigator for the Department of Trade and Industry (now Business Innovation & Skills) Companies Investigation Branch where I conducted numerous investigations over a number of years. I also approached several police forces around the UK and explained my approach: the importance of independence and precision, accuracy and conciseness needed when reporting on complex frauds.

I was able to get an entry on the police database of experts and since then have undertaken an two or three assignments each year for various forces around the country, including the Metropolitan Police, Northumbria, North, South & West Yorkshire, Manchester, North and South Wales etc. Most recently I attended Newcastle Crown Court where I believe my oral evidence in chief, given over half a day, and subsequent cross examination, assisted with the guilty verdict that was being sought.

As a forensic accountant, my evidence must be impartial. In this way, expert evidence is most valuable because it is credible to the Court. Acting on other occasions on behalf of the defendant in criminal matters demonstrates my independence from the matter, and enforces the fact that my duty is to the court.

Notwithstanding the need for total impartiality, at the investigation stage of any case a forensic accountant’s input can also be valuable. Impartiality is apparent within any report produced or evidence given, but a forensic accountant will also seek to find the best evidence they can in order to advise the investigating officers and prosecutors. If the evidence is not enough to support the indictments, the forensic accountant will suggest what must be obtained. If the evidence seems ambiguous, the forensic accountant will again make this clear.

I was recently asked by the Metropolitan Police Force to examine and present a case that they had been investigating regarding the theft of monies from a family business bank account. The allegations had been brought by the sons of a business owner who had retired a few years ago and was now deceased. It seems that the owner’s wife (who continued to work for the business) had continued taking dividends and salary from the company long after her husband’s retirement.

While it was an easy matter to quantify how much money that the wife had taken over and above her own wages, it became apparent that this was activity that had taken place openly without the wife concealing the nature of the withdrawals. The company directors, the sons, had failed to manage the bank account mandates or monitor the funds flowing from the accounts properly. If there was any problem at all it was of a civil nature. The prosecution was dropped.

I understand that there are a number of cases that should never be brought to court. While I understand that the police should investigate all material frauds that are brought to their attention as complaints, police funding is tight. If officers’ time and police funds are tied up in pointless court action, this reduces resources available for investigating or preventing crimes. I believe that this problem is well understood by senior police officials, and why funds are sometimes made available for the independent assessment of financial cases by forensic accountants like me.

At Mark Jenner & Co Limited we keep out fees for police assistance down at the same discounted levels charged for other publicly funded work (such as criminal defence work funded by the Legal Aid Authority). This is an attempt to maintain a level playing field, and to encourage police forces to utilise independent forensic accountant’s more.