30 Years of Forensic Accounting

Detecting fraud in the business world is something Dave Oswald has been doing for close to 30 years now, both here in Canada and across the globe.

Before becoming a chartered accountant, he found three major frauds in three years while apprenticing with an external auditor in South Africa in the early 1980s.

In the first case, a mine operator had overstated the value of its chrome stockpiles by three times as much; the second dealt with a woman using fraudulent credit notes, and the third uncovered a cheque misappropriation scheme at one of his apprenticeship’s firm’s clients. He once got chased out of a company by acting as a whistleblower on its dishonest dealings.

With a taste for forensic accounting, he joined Ernst & Young to develop his skills further. Dave says that looking for fraud requires a certain mindset and skepticism of what you’re seeing, and to be able to nose out what’s wrong. Plus, you have to have a lot of guts and the ability to follow through on hunches.

His original investigation firm started in Johannesburg, and he moved to Canada in 2013 and reopened his practice in late 2016 with specialization in forensic accounting, computer forensics, eDiscovery, data analytics, fraud risk assessments, loss adjusting and Anton Piller investigations. With experience in the industry all over the globe, he’s seen great similarity in the world of white-collar crime.

Often, it’s those higher-ranking business leaders are the ones who are slow to detect what’s going on within. Because there are large amounts of money at stake, it’s a powerful reason to recruit the services of a professional investigation firm rather than running an internal investigation.

In one recent $2.5-million case, Forensic Restitution found “the smoking gun” within weeks, yet the company itself spent months looking and hadn’t found anything.

Lawyers or loss adjusters often call on Forensic Restitution’s services to help gather evidence on suspected fraud. Other cases deal with concerns about violations of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

The accounting and review team scours its way through everything with a suite of tools to help find documents and evidence required to prosecute a case, providing clients and their legal teams with solid information to take to court.

What’s often discouraging in Canada’s current laws is that not enough of the perpetrators go to jail. Companies would benefit if there were changes in the system so more people are held responsible and face harsh penalties .