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How Does a Forensic Accountant’s Report Help You in POCA Proceedings?
  • Mar 29, 2022
  • Latest Journal

by Lennie Harris, Chartered Accountant and Managing Director of HCA Consultancy, specialist in forensic accountancy and problem resolutions

When a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) order is made, the authorities will always try to maximise the revenue that they feel should be returned to the Exchequer. In reality, the actual sum imposed bears little reality to the defendant’s assets or the amount realised through crime.

As a specialist forensic accountant, I’m regularly called upon and instructed by the defendant’s legal team to assist them in challenging the prosecution’s own POCA calculations. My first job would be to prepare a forensic accountant’s report. Speed is of the essence when it comes to talking to your forensic accountant. If you miss the legal deadline set and you don’t pay the assessed amount, which I would wish to challenge, your time in prison will be extended – just when you might be expecting and hoping for an early release. I can’t stress how important it is that you don’t delay.

Many legal professionals don’t fully understand all the monetary aspects relating to the POCA assessment, and without forensic accountancy advice may be only too ready to accept the prosecution’s figures. To this end I can work with the defendant’s legal team to reduce your liability.

In compiling my report, I examine the financial benefit you have obtained from the crime you have been accused of. I will carefully examine how much you have benefitted personally and as part of the process I will also look at your known available amount. This is the assets you have available which can be used to pay an agreed POCA.

I will then report to your solicitors as an expert witness. I have the appropriate qualifications as a Chartered Accountant and Managing Director of a specialist consultancy with a track record of success in this field.

The work I do on your behalf focuses on forensic accounting and business investigations, and I have also looked at businesses and individuals in financial difficulties. I believe in finding solutions rather than dwelling on the associated problems. I have prepared reports for the Crown Prosecution Service and have given evidence in several court proceedings.

Importantly, I will listen to you and discuss the case in detail and in an understandable way. I will involve you in producing my final report. There will be no  hidden mysteries.

A forensic accountant must be thorough to succeed. I look at the indictment, the sentencing remarks, the case summary, the Section 16(3), 17 and 18 statements and all the defendant’s and witnesses’ responses. Nothing is overlooked.

The work I do can provide a major contribution to the reduction in your benefit from the charges and in the known available amount to pay the POCA.

I work with your appointed legal team or can, on request, suggest lawyers I have worked with before who are experts in their field.

What about the cost? In many cases this can be government funded or arrangements for private funding can be agreed. But you must move quickly. The results can be highly beneficial with substantial reductions on the original court assessments.

Lennie Harris is a Chartered Accountant and Managing Director of HCA Consultancy, specialist in forensic accountancy and problem resolutions.

Many thanks to Inside Time for pemission to reproduce this article