Forensic Audit Meaning
Forensic Audit is a structured examination of the financial records of a business entity in an investigative manner in order to find out the evidence that can be used for legal proceedings in court. It is one step ahead of an internal audit and the person who conducts such audit should have knowledge of the law & legal framework along with expert knowledge of accounting & auditing.
Reasons for Conducting Forensic Audit
#1 – Conflict of Interest
When an employee misuses his position for personal gains at the cost of company loss in such a case forensic audit comes into the picture.
E.g – Manager approving the excess/unwanted expenses of an employee with whom he has personal relations. In this case, the manager will financially not benefited from this activity but on personal he will get some leverage over his employee.
#2 – Bribe
In an organization offering money or giving some expensive gifts for getting the things done or making the situation in his favor is a bribe.
E.g – Head of Purchase department approves purchase from that vendor who will supply the material at a higher cost or cost less than comparing to other vendors but the quality of the product is not good and he is getting some personal compensation from that vendor.
#3 – Misappropriation of Assets
This is the most common and most prevalent type of fraud. These employees are misusing the assets of the company for their benefit.
E.g – Releasing the money on the basis of fake bill submission, Using the company assets for his personal use most common is stationery of company, Using the company inventory by showing that particular inventory is damaged/expired (this mostly happened in FMCG companies).
#4 – Misrepresentation of Financial Statement
This type of fraud generally happens at a higher level of company for showing the better performance of the company against the actual performance so that investors will not hesitate to invest in the company and lenders can easily offer loans at the lower interest rates. Top management will also get benefited by getting bonuses or incentives on the basis of company performance. Misrepresentation can be done by showing less provision against accrued expenses or debtors, hiding any contingent liability, not giving the proper disclosure about the information which can influence the investor or lenders.
Steps of Forensic Audit
There are four steps are
- Planning the investigation
- Collecting Evidence
- Court Proceedings
#1 – Planning the Investigation
Auditors will plan their investigation in a way that nothing should be left out and the objective of an audit will be achieved. Below are some points which auditor will keep in mind:
- Identifying the fraud which is being carried out
- The period during which fraud has been carried out
- Reason for fraud or root cause of fraud
- Find out the employees who are involved in the fraud
- The loss suffered by the company because of fraud whether it is financial or non – financial
- Collecting evidence can be established by fraud in court proceedings.
- Suggesting action which needs to be taken for preventing these types of fraud in future
#2 – Collecting Evidence
This is the most essential part of forensic audits. After identifying the fraud auditor will collect the evidence which can be substantiated and acceptable in court and these documents must be in a manner that will reflect how the fraud has happened, who has done and what amount of loss the company has suffered.
Example – Assume one vendor has finalized for purchasing raw material and it suspects that there are some malicious things happened in that finalization then the auditor will examine and collect the below documents
- Who has approved the vendor
- Whether company policy has been followed at the time of finalizing
- Quotation from other 3 -4 vendors has been taken or not
- If taken then whether all these quotations are properly compared with each other in terms of pricing and quality
- After finalizing, whether the vendor has provided the same quality of material or not which he has shown at the time of selection
#3 – Reporting
After completing the above process, a forensic auditor will prepare a report which is a summary of his audit for presenting to the management/client. The report contains below point:
- Observation/Finding during an audit
- Evidence gathered which will substantiate the fraud
- How much loss suffered by the company
- How the fraud has been conducted
- What steps should be taken to stop this type of fraud
On the basis of it, Report management can decide whether they should go for legal proceedings or not.
#4 – Court Proceedings
If management is deciding that they will go for legal on the basis of the forensic audit report then the auditor should also be present at the court during proceeding so that he can explain how the fraud has been done and how the evidence will support his statement. The forensic auditor will also simplify the accounting fraud in simple language so that everyone can understand easily.
Forensic Audit vs Internal Audit
- Forensic Audit is done for finding the fraud if anything happened in the company whereas internal audit is done for finding the lapse in accounting or company policies.
- Forensic Auditors must have expert knowledge of law whereas this is not compulsory for internal auditors.
- Evidence gathered in the forensic audits can be used for legal proceedings whereas evidence gathered in an internal audit will not be acceptable in legal proceedings.
- Forensic audit is required when there is suspect that employee has intensely done fraud for his personal gain whereas an internal audit is done as a regular activity for checking whether all the accounting policies, accounting standard has been followed but mistakes have not done intensely.
Forensic Audit is required for a specific purpose like finding the fraud or any misrepresentation of financial statement by examining the past transaction and collecting evidence which will prove that some fraud has happened and that can be used in court for legal proceedings. Whereas internal audit is basically focused on compliance, Polices, accounting standards & other control that companies need to follow for their operation.
This has been a guide to Forensic Audit and its meaning. Here we discuss steps for conducting forensic audit along with its example, reasons and differences from internal audit. You may learn more about financing from the following articles –