Building a Case: Gathering and Documenting Evidence
Gathering, documenting, and retaining evidence are crucial steps in any investigation and critical to forensic accounting investigations. Decisions taken with respect to the gathering of evidence are intertwined with judgments about the scope and manner of investigation, and the value of the conclusions of an investigation ultimately rests on the credibility of the evidence discovered. Thus, care must be taken at all times to properly gather, preserve, store, and use evidentiary materials. Performed correctly, the means and manner of evidence gathering create a clear, straightforward, and convincing trail to the ultimate conclusions of the investigation. Conversely, laxity or error in the handling of evidentiary material may obscure the logic of an investigation and undercut its conclusions.
One should always begin an investigation as if the matter may end up in a criminal court, and for this reason take all appropriate steps to gather and preserve the evidence. Even if it is believed at the outset that it is unlikely the matter will be referred for prosecution, it is best to maintain that option. After all, one never knows where investigations may lead, and there may be no choice in the matter if an enforcement agency decides that the investigation is of interest.
In forensic accounting investigations, several types of evidence are normally relevant, and most of them are documentary ...