The Fraud Examiner

Following the Funds Abroad

Prof. Colin May, CFE      
Adjunct Professor of Forensic Studies and Criminal Justice
Stevenson University, Forensic Studies Program

Consider the following scenario: a client has asked you to find suspected fraud that may have been committed by one of the client’s employees. There are allegations that the suspect had moved some of stolen funds to an off-shore tax haven.

If you’ve never conducted a foreign investigation before, there could be some significant issues and hurdles that impact the case before it even gets going.

Foreign investigations are expensive, difficult and time-consuming for a variety of reasons. There are also legal hurdles that require involvement by multiple lawyers — especially if more than one other country is involved. Beyond the simple reality that laws and regulations vary widely, there are issues like translations, interviews/depositions and other issues that are beyond the scope of this article but are still critically important to a successful investigation. Engaging an experienced, reliable, ethical professional who has expertise in international asset recovery can be indispensable.

Key questions to raise

The first step in the case should be asking a lot of questions — especially to the client or victim. This also includes gathering available domestic evidence in a permissible way since those will be the first leads to follow. In these cases, it is important to have a defined starting point. The following questions will help lead to the various avenues to pursue, depending on some of the many factors addressed.

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