Forensic accountants investigate and evaluate financial records in support of actual or anticipated legal disputes. When most people hear the word “forensics”, they do not immediately think of accountants, but rather, they imagine scientists in white lab coats examining microscopic evidence to assist law enforcement in solving crimes. Nonetheless, the term “forensic” simply refers to the suitability or usability of information in a court of law. Accordingly, forensic accounting can be thought of as the science of using accounting as a tool to identify and develop proof of money flow.
Government officials, civil or criminal lawyers, or private clients often rely on the expertise of forensic accountants because of their thorough, objective approach to resolving disputes. They are detail-oriented, possess exceptional analytical skills, and have strong oral and written communication skills with the capability to simplify complex information. Their abilities to recognize patterns and deconstruct complex systems of damages and assets are just as important as their capacity to effectively communicate their findings in a court of law.
In many ways, forensic accounting is similar to auditing. The accountants evaluate the accuracy and validity of all financial activity involved with a case, but forensic accountants go beyond financial examination to actively look for fraud or other suspicious activity.
Use of BTZ Experts in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigations
BTZ professionals may be engaged by governmental agencies, civil or criminal lawyers, or private clients, and may provide both litigation support services and investigative accounting services. BTZ professionals provide a broad range of litigation and trial support services for current or pending litigation as expert consultants or as testifying experts, and engage in all facets of the litigation process, including:
- Providing general assistance throughout the litigation process to help clients understand the facts related to the accounting and financial issues;
- Conducting an initial investigation in pending or threatened litigation;
- Assisting in obtaining the necessary documentation to support or refute a claim;
- Examining the relevant accounting and financial documentation to form a valuation of the case;
- Assessing economic damages, including losses, earnings, profits and business value;
- Reviewing the opposing expert’s report and testimony; and
- Assisting with pre-trial and trial issues and settlement negotiations.
BTZ professionals further provide businesses, not-for-profits and individuals with a broad range of investigative accounting services. BTZ typically provides fraud investigation services when a client suspect’s fraud or misconduct may have occurred, such as employee theft or misappropriation of funds by a partner to a partnership.
BTZ provides a range of forensic accounting and fraud investigation services. Common assignments may include:
- Reconstructing incomplete or inaccessible records
- Data mining, extractions, analysis of large data sets (e.g., time entry records), and statistical sampling capabilities
- Asset tracing, misappropriation, waste and embezzlement
- Tracing funds, including separate and community funds for marital dissolutions
- Criminal investigations
- White collar criminal defense
- Fraud prevention
- Fraud investigation
- Fraud risk assessments
- Internal control analysis
- Partnership or shareholder accounting
- Financial aspects of alter ego issues
- Searching for unrecorded income
- Analyzing expenses and expenditures
- Contract compliance
- Insurance claims analysis
- Royalty audits
- Seminars & training
The professionals at BTZ combine expert knowledge of accounting with finely honed investigative skills to assist clients in identifying and resolving legal issues. Equally critical is the ability of BTZ professionals to communicate financial information clearly and concisely in a legal setting.
BTZ professionals who offer expert consulting and/or expert witness services regarding forensic accounting
or fraud investigation matters are:
- Brian P. Brinig, Principal;
- Robert A. Taylor, Principal;
- Paul A. Zimmer, Principal;
- Darlene D. Babcock, Director;
- Cheryl Kessler, Director; and
- Catherine (Kate) Kowalewski, Director.