A forensic accounting expert in Philadelphia or elsewhere in the U.S. often requires very specific, detailed financial documents for analysis before providing litigation support services and expert witness testimony during legal proceedings. But too often, attorneys engage the services of forensic accountants late in the process after having requested insufficient financial data from the opposition.
“There have been a number of times that I have been retained late in discovery or even after discovery has closed,” said David Anderson, principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides litigation support services and expert witness testimony in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. “In some of those cases, the only financial records counsel requested were income tax returns and bank statements, believing those documents contained sufficient financial information for my analyses and reports. Unfortunately, they did not.”
Anderson, whose full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley includes litigation support services and expert witness testimony in Philadelphia, notes that income tax returns contain only summary level information. For example, he said, sales revenue is shown as a single amount. No detail is provided concerning the dollar amounts or numbers of specific products or services sold.
“In one of my cases, counsel wanted to know how much was being paid to non-officer family members,” explained Anderson, a Philadelphia forensic accountant. “But counsel had obtained only the income tax return, which merely showed total wages and salaries paid to all employees, not to each individual. The tax return could not be used to answer the question.”
Anderson said the attorney could have overcome this hurdle if detailed company payroll information had been requested during discovery.
In another case, explained Anderson, a forensic accounting expert in Philadelphia, counsel suspected that the majority shareholders were running personal expenses through the company – such as auto expenses, travel, meals, entertainment, etc. But again, because the income tax returns showed only summary level information, Anderson was unable to determine whether any of the expenses were of a personal nature.
“Had counsel asked for detailed general ledger information and copies of invoices supporting all expenses, I would have had the necessary information to conduct my forensic examination,” explained Anderson, whose company offers a full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.
Bank statements also are frequently requested in discovery, but they too lack detailed information. The Philadelphia forensic accountant said bank statements seldom show deposit detail – what checks, cash and/or incoming wire transfers made up each deposit and from where the checks or incoming wire transfers came.
In addition, bank statements do not provide detail regarding checks written against the account – only check number, amount and date charged against the account, according to Anderson, whose Philadelphia forensic accounting firm provides litigation support services and expert witness testimony in Philadelphia. Bank statements may show debits or credits posted against the account as well as cash withdrawals and transfers to/from the account, but with little detail, he said.
Generally, the only real details contained in bank statements are for outgoing wires (showing to whom the wire was sent), for debit card purchases, and for recurring ACH (automated clearinghouse) payments, according to Anderson, a Philadelphia forensic accountant.
“Attorneys can overcome bank statement shortcomings by requesting copies of all deposited items, including deposit slips; copies of all cancelled checks; copies of all documents supporting debits, credits, transfers to/from and withdrawals from the bank account; detailed general ledger information; and copies of invoices supporting each cancelled check,” he said.
However, Anderson cautions, each case is different and carries with it its own unique set of circumstances. The best way an attorney can be sure he or she has requested the financial documentation necessary to generate the reports that will support the case is to retain the services of a forensic accounting expert early in the discovery process.
If you require the services of a forensic accounting expert in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, please contact the Philadelphia forensic accounting firm of David Anderson & Associates by calling David Anderson at 267-207-3597 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About David Anderson & Associates
David Anderson & Associates is a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. The experienced professionals at David Anderson & Associates provide forensic accounting, business valuation, fraud investigation, fraud deterrence, litigation support, economic damage analysis, business consulting and outsourced CFO services. Company principal David Anderson is a forensic accounting expert in Philadelphia with more than 30 years of experience in financial and operational leadership positions. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner and a Certified Valuation Analyst. Anderson also has provided expert witness testimony in the Greater Philadelphia area and served as a forensic consultant on both civil and criminal cases.