Brown Forensic Accounting Services
In the bankruptcy process, CPAs can participate in a number of capacities, such as account/financial advisor for the debtor, the creditor’s committee, the equity committee, the examiner, the trustee, etc. In addition, the increasing sophistication of bankruptcy proceedings have resulted in an increase in demand for business valuation services in the bankruptcy-distressed arena. Business valuations performed in this context expose CPAs to many unique issues not found in other valuation engagements.
Susan Brown participated as part of an Arthur Andersen & Co. contract with the Office of Thrift Supervision in Louisiana and Mississippi. As part of this contract she assisted in the closure of failed savings and loan institutions by inventorying and analyzing financial records to ensure protection to deposit holders and provide asset and loan protection prior to turning over the institution to the Resolution Trust Corporation.
When the valuation of a business is an issue, we provide an independent, knowledgeable, and credible valuation to withstand the intense scrutiny of the taxing authority, the courts, and other relevant arbiters.
Businesses are frequently valued in divorce cases, business disputes, tax matters, and in a variety of other legal and business contexts. Some of the situations for which a business valuation may be needed are:
- Allocation of Purchase Price
- Bankruptcy and Reorganization
- Buy-Sell Agreements
- Charitable Gift Planning
- Gift and Estate Planning
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Pursuing and/or defending litigation
- Shareholder Disputes
While Brown Forensic Accounting is often retained to prepare a full written report, the firm also prepares modified reports for business transactions and litigation matters. A business valuation will include but is not limited to the following key issues:
- Develop a thorough understanding of the subject business and its industry
- Utilize the appropriate standard of value pertinient to the engagement
- Determine the valuation method(s) best suited to establish the proxy of value.
Economic damages refer to any temporary and/or permanent impairment caused by one or more parties and sustained by an operating entity.
Brown Forensic Accounting performs economic damage estimates for claims providing a variety of client services, including estimation of lost profits, lost value, lost opportunity, increased costs, market share erosion, mitigation, restitution, among other types of services.
Brown Forensic Accounting can perform economic damages estimates in connection with cases involving individuals, businesses or other organizations for claims related to the BP Oil Spill.
Investigation is the act of determining whether criminal matters such as employee theft, securities fraud (including falsification of financial statements), identity theft, or insurance fraud have occurred. Investigations may occur in civil and criminal matters.
There are two different ways that a fraud investigation starts. One type of investigation begins when an actual fraud has been identified, and maybe one or mere perpetrators are identified too. The other type of investigation starts with a strong suspicion of fraud, but no proof of theft.
While forensic accounting and fraud auditing are related, fraud auditing is more anticipatory. Fraud auditors try to control a situation before something happens, whereas a Forensic CPA may be hired after the fact.
A Forensic CPA is usually hired after a company suspects theft, fraud or embezzlement.
Forensic CPAs are suspicious. They must be able to apply their accounting knowledge to legal issues. A Forensic CPA will be asked to assist in civil and criminal investigations by conducting a fraud investigation, assisting in depositions, writing an expert report and testifying as an expert witness.
Susan Brown is a Forensic CPA,/CFF and a CFE who combines technical expertise with creativity and a knack for finding key pieces of evidence. The creativity component becomes crucial when you are trying to devise ways of verifying information or finding new evidence.
Susan Brown previously worked for a law enforcement agency as a forensic auditor who provided targeted forensic accounting assistance with audits, investigations, inspections and performance reviews conducted to determine the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of governmental programs. She investigated alleged improprieties at all levels of city government including the detection of fraud and the collection of evidence to support or refute allegations involving employee theft malfeasance in office, payroll fraud, conspiracy, and misappropriation of public funds.
Susan Brown and her firm, Brown Forensic Accounting, have conducted financial fraud examinations for various businesses and government agencies in the State of Louisiana. The firm has assisted in identifying, quantifying and compiling the information into a Fraud Examination Report which the organization and/or government agency can provided to law enforcement to aid in the prosecution of the criminal matter.
Litigation Support is often an important and necessary component to the service attorneys provide their clients.
When faced with the challenges in preparing a case, it is essential to address complex financial, tax and accounting issues. Brown Forensic Accounting excels in sorting through cumbersome data as well as organizing and quantifying this pertinent financial information.
The efforts before trial are often as important as the trial itself. Brown Forensic Accounting has the skills to assist in the discovery process by developing document requests, helping prepare interrogatories, conducting interviews, assisting in pre-trial depositions, and reviewing and critiquing opposing counsel’s financial expert’s records. Brown Forensic Accounting also provides expert witness testimony..
In litigation support matters, Brown Forensic Accounting consistently provides the guidance attorneys require to present their case.
Key issues in litigation support include but are not limited to the following:
- Communicate accounting, tax & economic concepts in a clear and user friendly manner.
- Identify strengths & weaknesses of the oppositions’ position.
- Utilize technology in the presentation.
Divorce – even the “friendly divorce” – is a stressful, emotional, and difficult process. During the course of a marriage, spouses’ assumed roles in marriage and money management usually evolve so that one spouse handles the money. Thus, the managing spouse has tremendous leverage because of his or her knowledge of and access to property and information in a divorce. All too frequently the managing spouse cannot resist taking advantage of his or her position to obtain a better financial settlement. When this is done by intimidation, concealment, deceit, or breach of spousal duties, it may be characterized as fraud. That’s where the Forensic CPA applies his or her skills and experience to discover, disclose, and assist the attorney in the recovery of property or rights obtained improperly or by fraud.
All matrimonial actions start with a common goal: identify the total “marital estate.”
Brown Forensic Accounting can be retained to help attorneys and their clients carefully analyze various financial documents in connection with a matrimonial matter. In many instances our involvement can begin right at the start of the discovery process. These services commonly include:
- Analyzing personal and business tax returns
- Reviewing bank statements and brokerage accounts
- Assisting in client interviews and depositions
- Tracing assets to determine or refute separate property claims
- Searching for assets that may have been diverted or dissipated in anticipation of divorce
Locating, organizing, and interpreting financial documents in the early stages of a divorce proceeding is a daunting task, but one that must be considered. Today, the Court is much more sophisticated and equipped to understand how the investigation of a couple’s lifestyle relates to their support determination. Even a slight miscalculation can influence the Court’s judgment.
With so much riding on the correct presentation of the couple’s lifestyle, a formal Lifestyle Analysis is crucial. Keep in mind, however, that with the individuality of each case, a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not the best solution. An expertly prepared Lifestyle Analysis provides substantial benefits to counsel, clients and the Court. Clients grasp the truth of their prior, present, and future economic situations-allowing them to better furnish themselves with the tools necessary to understand their financial position.
Today the Lifestyle Analysis is required not only by the “non-money” spouse seeking Pendent Lite relief, but often by each party. Half of these engagements are now performed on behalf of the primary “income earner,” looking to prevent his/her spouse from receiving an unreasonable temporary support order. The Court has welcomed this exercise as one that has influenced both Pendent Lite support orders and final financial divorce judgment.
The Lifestyle Analysis generally includes, but is not limited to:
- Analyzing personal and business income tax returns
- Analyzing bank statements, brokerage statements, and credit card statements
- Investigating the nature and frequency of significant spending
- Identifying non-recurring and seasonal expenses
- Reviewing of credit reports
In many instances, this exercise has been able to identify spending patterns that were previously unknown or can uncover gambling; the accumulation of art, memorabilia and collectibles; the dissipation of marital assets; and even the existence of extramarital relationships. Once the necessary records are analyzed, calculations regarding the monthly and annual average spending can be determined. The detail and strength of the Lifestyle Analysis leads to credible arguments that can be made to demonstrate a true and accurate analysis of a couple’s lifestyle; and attorneys gain strategic advantages in fighting for the monetary settlement their client deserves.
Key Issues in Lifestyle Analysis
- Summarize data from obvious & discrete sources.
- Identify the ordinary & necessary living expenses of the parties.
- Prepare a report & demonstratives that express a clear presentation.
Forensic investigations are often needed to determine other financial issues when a couple divorces. These commonly include:
- Determining income available for spousal maintenance and child support
- Computing reasonable needs or living expenses
- Assist in the preparation of the Financial Decleration
- Valuation of business interests
- Enhanced earnings capacity calculations of degrees and licenses
The Special Needs Child and Divorce – Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. Families with special needs children have a much higher divorce rate and much greater needs than those of families with typical children. As the mother of a special needs child born in 1997, Susan Brown is uniquely qualified to assist attorneys and clients in addressing, quantifying and communicating to the courts why support guidelines may not address or meet all of the needs of the special needs child or the parental caregiver.
Both the prosecution and the defense sides of a criminal matter may require the skills of a Forensic CPA.
The Prosecution Side
In a criminal prosecution of white collar crime, the prosecution wants to achieve a conviction, seek restitution and send a message that such crimes will not be tolerated. The federal, state and local prosecutors may use the services of a Forensic CPA to unravel the transactions and present the evidence in a manner that can be understood by a jury. Forensic CPAs perform a variety of services for prosecutors which often begin with identification of the relevant documents and information that will ultimately serve as the evidentiary basis for the prosecution’s case. After assistance with the data collection phase, Forensic CPAs are often directed to focus on specific transactions or classes of transactions and report their observations of any patterns or anomalies identified. These observations, coupled with the results of email analyses, witness interviews and other information, further clarify the theory of the case. The Forensic CPA is often asked to determine what scheme(s) may be in effect and their financial impact on the victims, and to explain both the mechanics of the schemes and how they were disguised. Additionally, the funds lost to these schemes must be traced and any assets acquired with these funds must be identified for possible forfeiture and seizure.
Susan Brown has assisted the prosecution side in cases ranging from employee theft, forgery, malfeasance in office, payroll fraud, conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds.