Forensic Account in Public Finance Management
14 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 11, 2018
The growing spate of corruption, fraud and financial crimes with devastating consequences on companies and national economies has compelled regulatory changes across national, regional and even international boundaries. In fact, the general perception was that such vices were largely an internal event, primarily impacting the organization's net earnings or earnings per share (EPS). They were not conceived to have a major impact in the way businesses were conducted. Unfortunately, that perception has considerably changed in recent times. Today, the world understands better with organizations knowing that the negative effect of these offences goes beyond the bottom line of any organisation. Basically, these vices serve to attenuate optimum pursuit of organizational goals; they limit organizational ability to economize on scarce resources, including information processing and decision-making capability, in transaction cost terms; they promote information hoarding, opportunism, bounded rationality and distortions. The associated negative publicity of corporate fraud breeds high reputational risks, stifles business prospects, and threatens business survival. These are the core transactional issues on which a comparative assessment of the rise of fraud examination and forensic accounting in Africa turns.
Corruption is rife in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and government agencies which have become a conduit by Government officials, legislators and politicians to divert funds through inflated contracts, bloated staff strength, and overpriced procurement of goods and services. The fraudulent monies would then be laundered into the financial system through concealed deposits in private pseudonym accounts, ‘non-existent corporate’ accounts, purchase of real estate, or donations to political parties, religious bodies and charities involved in the scheme. (Herbert, Tsegba, Ene and Onyilo 2017:2) Nowadays, the audacity of corruption is not just an act of the mind but a deliberate one perpetrated with total disregard for the law and its consequences. As fraudsters have become more dangerously creative with devastating consequences, so has the configuration of fraud investigation become increasingly sophisticated with encouraging results. Forensic accounting, which has evolved to combat the growing rate and economic consequences of fraud and abuse, financial crimes and corruption, encapsulates specialized knowledge and specific skills to stumble up on the evidence of economic transactions. (Joshi, 2003).
Traditional accountants, however effective they may be, are not necessarily forensic accountants. The global economic consequences of recent accounting scandals juxtaposing the increasing spate of fraud and corruption have occasioned new national and international antifraud and anti-money laundering legislations. These have created a huge demand for fraud investigation and forensic accounting work. Increasingly, many professional accountancy firms are establishing specialized fraud examination and forensic accounting units to keep up with the workload. At the same time, organizations and government agencies are finding it difficult to recruit experienced and highly skilled forensic accountants and fraud examiners. (Herbert et al. 2017:5) This last point will be developed in the next paragraph. This paper is addressing the need for forensic accountants with the public finance management reforms. The need and the definition of forensic accounting will be developed. The public financial management is discussed along with various actions for an effective implementation.
Keywords: public finance, management, reforms, forensic accounts, accountability, separation of functions
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