Every organization is at a risk of financial loss due to fraud. An effective audit team helps mitigate this both internally and externally. It’s crucial that both teams have thorough knowledge of both detection and prevention if the goal of fraud mitigation and eradication is to be achieved.
Forensic accountants identify illegal activity, discover and preserve evidence (Houck et al, 2006) and is thus important to distinguish the forensic auditor from the regular auditor. A well-known fact is that there has recently been fraud committed in both private and public sectors. In both cases, the internal and external players have left a lot to be desired brought about by greed and the current global economic factors. This led to the birth of forensic accounting to deal with white collar crimes including but not limited to embezzlement, contract disputes, money laundering, and security fraud among others. The forensic accountant provides investigative accounting and offers litigation support in these cases.
Difference between an auditor and a forensic accountant
It has to be noted that there is a difference between an auditor and a forensic accountant. While an auditor determines compliance in accordance to the audit standards and considers the possibility of fraud, a forensic accountant has a more concentrated focus on detecting and deterring of fraud; (Crumbley and Apostolou, 2005). By clearly disambiguating the two individuals, bias is avoided in intertwining their roles and clearly understanding the specific and exact roles in fraud detection and mitigation.
The roles and know-how of forensic accountants
Roche gives the description of a forensic accountant as an individual who despite the face value of the findings presented, goes ahead and questions the truthfulness of the data presented from what is presented by conducting detailed interviews of stakeholders to develop the truth especially if there is a presumption that the individuals may be lying.
Professionally, a forensic accountant is an individual who specializes in fraud detection, documenting the exact documents with sufficient evidence required for successful criminal prosecution. They should be able to work in the most complex regulatory and litigation environments. They can reconstruct deceptive, missing or destroyed accounting records and pin point the root of the entire financial report or account record. Forensic accountants in addition have an economic and an appraiser’s points of view (Bologna and Lindquist, 1995).
As an economist, they are well aware of the loss, social harm and damage estimates. They can use assumptions, algorithms and econometric models; can measure loss of goodwill and reputation.
As an appraiser, the forensic accountant should be able to express well informed opinions on matters of business value on the basis of generally accepted theories. They can evaluate historical and projected propensities of risk and return of any and all financial transactions of assets, equities and taxes including those of any going concern.
The follow up and doggedness of a suspicion is after all that which sets aside forensic accountants from auditors (Bologna and Lindquist, 1995).