Private eye for fraud

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The Independent Online
It is perhaps a sad reflection on the state of business that a recent growth area has been forensic accounting - or assisting lawyers in fraud inquiries and in commercial disputes.

And Martin Foster (above), who takes over from David Carter as head of KPMG's UK forensic accounting arm this month, sees no reason for this not to continue. "There is still massive potential for growth," he says. "The continuing rise in fraud, as well as the increasing expectations of auditors, will keep our fraud investigators at the forefront of the issue for many years."

In the four years that the KPMG operation has been in existence as a specialist team, it has been involved in more than a quarter of a billion pounds worth of "satisfactory judgments and settlements", says Mr Carter, who is retiring. "It is gratifying that the role a forensic accountant can play is now so generally recognised."

Meanwhile, Mr Foster - an accountant with KPMG since 1969 and a partner since 1980 - is relishing a bit of financial private-eye work after extensive experience in audit, corporate finance and financial investigations and acting as an expert witness in several cases.

"With commercial disputes, we are increasingly being brought in by lawyers," he explains. "Furthermore, when audit clients are weighing up the pros and cons of going to litigation, they have started asking for our view on whether it is a viable route to take financially."

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