. INTRODUCTION The oxford Advanced Learners English Dictionary (2000:548) defines forensic as belonging to, used in, or suitable to a court of judicature or to the public discussion or debate. American Accounting Association (AAA) cited in Okoye (2000:1) defines accounting as the process of identifying, measuring, and communicating economic information to permit informed judgment and decision by the user of the information.Izedonmi (2000:1) sees auditing as an independent examination of the financial statement of an enterprise prepared by the management of that enterprise by an appointed person called auditor, in order to express a professional opinion whether or not those financial statements show a true and fair view position of the enterprise as at the end of the financial period, in accordance with the auditor’s term of engagement as well as other relevant statutory and professional regulations.
Also Oladipupo (2005) defines investigation as an examination of the records and accounts of an organization for a special purpose. The integration of accounting, auditing and investigation yields the specialty known as Forensic Accounting. Forensic accounting in the view of Howard and Sheetz (2006) is simply the process of interpreting. Summarizing and presenting complex financial issues clearly, succinctly and factually often in a court of law as an expert witness. It is concerned with the use of accounting discipline to help determine issues of facts in business litigation.Form business, government, regulatory authorities, and the counts, evidence indicates that a high level of expertise is necessary to analyze current complicated financial transactions and events (Razaee, Crumbley and Elmore, 2006).
As a result, forensic accounting has been thrown into the forefront of the crusade against financial deception (Rumaswamy, 2005). Bolgna and Linquist (1995) defined forensic accounting as the application of financial skills and an investigative mentality to unresolved issues, conducted within the context of the rules of evidence.Manning (2002) also defined forensic accounting as the application of financial accounting and investigative skills, to a standard acceptable by the courts, to address issues in dispute in the context of civil and criminal litigation. In the view of Damilola and Olofinsola (2007), Forensic accounting is the application of criminalities methods and integration of the accounting investigative activities and law procedures to detect and investigate financial crimes and related economic isdeeds.
To them, Forensic accounting is a highly technical and specialized area of practice within the principles and ethics of accounting profession. They further assert that it is not every forensic accounting engagement that ends up in the court of law. The need for forensic accounting aroused because of the failure of audit systems in the organizations as the organizational internal audit and other audits failed to figure certain errors in the managerial systems.A nationwide study conducted by Kessler International showed that 39 percent of organizations have considered the need for a forensic accountant within the past.
Twenty-eight percent said they already sought help from a forensic accountant, 18 percent said they required no assistance, and 15 percent were unsure of whom or where they should turn to for help. According to other studies, the results are indicative of the stock market woes and the sluggish economy, which have forced organizations to take a harder look at their numbers and seek help in determining why they suffered a financial loss.The experts elaborated and said, forensic accountants are being employed heavily because of company downsizing, noting that some management and control layers within firms have been eliminated causing fraudulent activities to go unnoticed. Experts in the field pointed out that the intense economic pressure, with more companies facing bankruptcy jobs and careers are at risk and employees feel pressured to maintain and support performance levels, forcing many to commit corrupt acts.Whatever the reasoning may be, more and more forensic accountants are being called upon to meticulously search through documents, discover new information, and help in putting together the irregular pieces of a company’s financial puzzle to solve the vexing problems. The Companies Act 1956 lays down the mechanism of preparation of accounts leading to the annual report embracing the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of financial position and the report of the directors, for presentation to shareholders and approval by them at the annual general meeting.
This whole process involves cleverness and professionalism calling for extreme good faith, integrity and transparency. Any shortfall on any of these counts is likely to be taken seriously. The recent instances of slips on all these aspects have pulled the authorities and the professional accounting bodies into a new perception that goes beyond statutory audit and in some ways even the tenets of corporate governance which, according to critics, are no better than lime- wash of the affairs of a company.Not only that, even the occupational fraud committed by employees usually involves the theft of assets and embezzlement that has been the most often committed fraud for the last 30 years and the ever changing economic, sociological and technological environment as well as the increasing social and financial Terrorism has led the business to turn Forensic Accounting for proactive fraud checkups. The rate at which corporate entities commit financial and accounting fraud nowadays has signaled a red alarm to all and sundry.Though we are few years into the new millennium, the number of companies and multinationals that was found window dressing their operating revenues and profits or applying income smoothening in reporting their operating performance is quite disappointing.
These financial corporate frauds involve huge amounts of money and are geared towards maintaining or increasing the share price of the perpetrating companies in the stock exchange market.According to Waymark (2007), studies in South Africa show that South African companies reported, as at October 2007, an average of 23 cases of corporate fraud during the preceding two years, with each organization losing an average of over R7. 4 million in that period. However, despite the introduction of new and more stringent corporate governance regulations in the country, corporate fraud remains a significant concern for South African business.In Nigeria, however, the most notable corporate fraud is the case of Cadbury Nigeria plc. The company was found to be falsifying its financial and accounting reports by inflating its profit figure by millions of Nigeria.
It is suspected that other big companies in Nigeria and other African countries may be doing the same thing in order to influence their share prices and attract investments (Gege, 2008). Another similar case to Cadbury's is that of Afribank Nigeria Plc.Afribank's financial statement woes and accusation by its former Managing Director that the Board of Directors colluded with its auditors to cook the books came more than a month before Cadbury's, but while Cadbury took quick and necessary steps to put the records straight, Afribank is still at work (Suleman, 2007). Corporate financial reporting is the medium through which companies communicate to the external society and the general public about their operational performance in terms of profitability, efficiency, and responsibility (Sanda, 2005).
The corporate financial reports are a company’s bill of health. Various stakeholders do take their respective decisions relative to a company based on the information supplied by it in its annual financial reports and accounts. The objective of corporate financial report is to provide information about the financial strength, performance and changes in financial position of an enterprise that is useful to a wide range of users in making economic decisions (Benston, 2007).The report should be understandable, relevant, reliable, and comparable.
When the financial reports are distorted they will no longer portray the true and fair view of the financial performance and position of the reporting entity, which will go a long way in making the various stakeholders to take wrong decisions and even suffer damages. Where this happens, an accounting scandal or corporate fraud deemed to have been committed.Financial investigation, on the other hand, is the medium through which the financial activities of an entity are checked and examined in order to ascertain their true and fair status. It is a process that involves series of verifications and examinations aimed at unveiling both intentional and accidental financial misstatements; and other deliberate deceptions for the purpose of deriving benefits thereof.