During litigation it is important to have the counsel and support of experienced professionals working on your behalf. Forensic accounting is a key support function during litigation. Using acceptable accounting methods, auditing tools and investigative skills, forensic accountants carry out an inquiry and document complicated financial issues. This investigation must provide clarity to clients and their legal team as well as present findings in a manner that is acceptable by the court, including testimony on the stand when needed.
During a financial dispute, quantifying the facts is essential. While legal counsel is responsible for arguing the merits of a case, forensic accountants provide the investigation and analysis needed during negotiations or litigation.
Forensic accountants may be called as expert witnesses or required to supply documentation to the court. It is critical to have a professional perform these tasks. Failing to do so can cost both time and money.
Our team of forensic accounting experts provide an array of services including:
Analysis of Financial Data
Forensic analysis provides a way to detect fraud, identify areas of waste and call out wrongdoing. Using investigative data analysis methods, our professionals are able to recognize and identify patterns and trends that are not easily identifiable at first glance. This can be done in order to support litigation or in order to identify and address risks before they become problems.
Calculation of Damages
Determining the true economic damages of an event requires expertise to complete several steps, that may include business valuation, quantification of lost profits and identifying actual profits. This determination must be built on acceptable accounting standards and supported by evidence. Smolin’s professionals analyze and document damages in a thorough, well-supported manner.
Increases in the number of bankruptcy filings also means an increase in bankruptcy fraud. It can be difficult to identify areas where assets are being concealed or to identify if fraud has occurred. Forensic accounts are able to identify, analyze and document:
- Assets that are missing or undervalued.
- Instances of poor record keeping.
- Information that is absent or that was modified.
- Unrecorded cash transactions.
- Complex situations including large and convoluted transactions.
In situations of fraud, our experts can identify areas of concern, investigate those concerns and present findings to the court in both written and oral form.
Breaches of Contract
Breach of contract cases tend to be complicated and often require thorough financial analysis to determine both if a breach occurred and the financial implications of the breach. This process requires an involvement of qualified forensic professionals. Calculating both the compliance and the financial implications are imperative and nearly impossible to do without the assistance of a qualified professional.
Often used during disputes, forensic accountants provide a key service while calculating a business’s valuation. There are a number of ways to value an organization. Experience and expertise allow forensic accountants to choose the method that best demonstrates a business’s actual value while adhering to local, state and federal guidelines.
- Cost, or asset, method: This method is based on the belief that an investor will not pay more for a business than they would to acquire the assets of the business.
- Income method: This method is based on the belief that an organization’s worth is an actual measure of their future expected incomes. The value is determined either by forecasting expected income based on business performance or by using historical income.
- Market method: The market method valuates a business based on its value given current market conditions and similar transactions.
Business valuation is one of the most critical services a forensic accountant can provide. While this service is often provided in conjunction with litigation, business valuation services are useful in a number of other applications.
Insurance claims require a thorough analysis of both the insurance policy and documenting the real cost of a loss. Our team of forensic accountants can provide support for either the insurer or the insured depending on the nature of the case. Identifying the breadth of the insurance policy and quantifying losses is crucial to being able to support a claim.
In marriage, it is rare for both parties to have full knowledge and understanding of the other’s financial affairs. Complicating matters further is the emotional aspect of the divorce that makes impartial decisions difficult, especially in regards to financial settlements. Forensic accountants are uniquely qualified to identify assets and sources of income for us by the family law attorneys.
In the vast majority of marriages, one spouse handles the financial dealings. Many times, that spouse is seen to have an advantage during settlement which can further inflame negative emotions. Using a forensic accountant can help ensure all assets are identified to allow an equitable distribution of assets.
When fraud arises, it is important to identify the root cause of the issue as well as areas where the fraud should have been detected, but was not. Auditors and financial professionals play a large role in helping organizations identify and eliminate risks in order to mitigate loses. When auditors fail to recognize fraud it is important to investigate if their shortcomings amounted to malpractice. Forensic accountants provide this service through deep analytical, investigational and accounting skills bringing clarity to an otherwise complex situation.
- Analysis of financial data
- Calculation of damages
- Bankruptcy and insolvency
- Breaches of contract
- Business valuations
- Insurance claims
- Marital disputes
- Partners/Shareholders’ disputes
- Professional malpractice
- Tax controversy
Smolin has worked in business fraud and litigation on behalf of clients across the region for more than 60 years. For more information, contact the Smolin Forensic Accounting team.