HOW MARK JENNER & CO CAN HELP FRAUD REGULATORS
- Up front no obligation review of any case to determine if there are areas where value can be added
- Fixed price quotes for specific tranches of work – no surprises at the end of a case
- No work done unless authorised in advance
- No obligation presentations given to your colleagues on subjects of forensic accounting, financial investigation, accounting procedures etc
- Rapid response – quick turn around of quotes, reports and other work
- Extensive & specialist experience with low overheads means that costs are kept to a minimum
Much of my work is as an expert witness providing an expert forensic accounting report in criminal defence matters. These are usually white collar crime indictments or confiscation proceedings. However, another major area is working for the fraud regulators such as the police. The two approaches can be very different:
AS A CRIMINAL DEFENCE EXPERT ACCOUNTANT
This is where the forensic accounting work is provided as an independent expert witness on behalf of a criminal defendant. It is not an attempt to “get the criminal off” but intended to give any defendant a balanced defence to any allegations being put to him. To be of any benefit, the forensic work must be completely unbiased in its approach. This does not meant that the faults and errors of the prosecution’s case are ignored – it is these that the defendant needs to counter – and when the mistakes are financial and accounting based, the opinion of a forensic accountant is invaluable.
WHEN PROVIDING EXPERT ACCOUNTING SUPPORT TO THE PROSECUTORS
When working for the fraud regulators there are two distinct approaches again – the first is when asked to provide an expert report in a fraud, money laundering or proceeds of crime matter to counter a report that has been produced by a defence expert accountant! In this case I must review a report prepared by a fellow forensic accountant and comment on its contents. In this case I am again an independent expert witness and must give non-partisan opinions on the other side’s report.
However, I could also be asked to assist with a particular fraud investigation or financial case being brought against a suspect. As an investigator, I am now a partisan participant within the fraud regulation arena! It is my job to help the police or the other regulators to find the evidence necessary to build the case. As a forensic accountant, my approach to this work can be more valuable than an investigating officer’s. This is because my approach can never get rid of the independent discipline that I develop as a expert witness/forensic accountant. In this respect I feel that I can be fairer, more balanced in my approach – but with the same eventual outcome. There is more credibility attached to evidence that can be seen to be objective and fair.
THE COST OF FORENSIC ACCOUNTING SERVICES
One thing that annoys me most is when public sector fraud regulators accuse forensic accountants of being expensive. Admittedly there are firms that charge an arm and a leg – but the hourly charge of a good expert need not even be as much as the cost per hour of active police officer duties. You must compare like with like. If you pay me for 10 hours you get 10 hours work – usually a bit more! However, 10 hours of a constable’s time, or of a financial investigator employed by the police, will involve taking into consideration the cost of his management, the cost of administration, the cost of overheads, the cost of sickness and training, the cost of coffee breaks…..
When you work it out – and I did for my Post Graduate Masters Degree in Fraud Investigation Management – the cost of a police officer compares very favourable with the average hourly rates of forensic accountants employed within some of the top accountancy firms. Although employing forensic accountants is an added cost for a police force, surely it would be better to budget for their utilisation some more in order that financial cases can be assisted by qualified and “independent” forensic accountancy resources?
Quality of forensic reports
I have said that a forensic accountant’s report should be independent and unbiased. Recently I prepared a confiscation report for a well known leading firm of solicitors – my report was well received by both the solicitors and defence counsel. The report was given to the defendant who was in jail serving time for serious drug trafficking offences. He was delighted, and showed all his chums the report telling them that they needed to employ someone like me! The report was then disclosed to the prosecution. The investigating officer was delighted with the report – it assisted him in some areas that he had had difficulty with. It was disclosed to prosecution counsel – he gave feedback that he was grateful for a report that clarified all the issues in the confiscation matter. It seems that everybody was delighted – an agreement was rapidly arrived at and all parties went away relatively happy! Cant be bad.