The Anonymous Letter
A forensic accountant has a crucial obligation to maintain the purity of a corporation or any operating division while conducting an investigation. In a case as sensitive as this one, involving a most conservative insurance company, the top priority was to ensure purity at the highest level as the subject of the allegations was a very senior member of management.
Retained by Counsel for the CEO, and with a damaging anonymous letter known only to two other people, I was asked to determine if there existed any merit to the contents of the letter.
When any allegation is made, bias among those who know becomes a potential problem unless its existence is acknowledged. And the more senior the potential bad apple, the more critical is this concern. Therefore, it is imperative to limit the number of people who need to know of the allegations.
The forensic accountant must probe carefully and create the basis in a timely manner for an eventual meeting with the person who is the subject of the allegations. This is not only a question of a normal course approach and response but it also fulfils the need to obtain and assess documents of a personal nature from the target. Management of a public company understands their responsibility to shareholders and recognition of this fact is key to the approach when seeking the co-operation of the person in question.
The time frame for the initial assessment is usually measured in days. But the main challenge is a timely and thorough response without a breach of personal or corporate privacy.