My favorite part of being a forensic accountant is rebuttal reports. An attorney comes to me with an expert report filed by the other side, which details some sort of economic loss. My job is to analyze that report and poke holes in it.
The things I will potentially criticize might include:
- The numbers are wrong – mistakes were made in the calculations, wrong numbers were used, transactions were skipped or incorrect, etc.
- The methods used to calculate the numbers are not widely accepted or used in the accounting profession
- Assumptions used were unreasonable or inappropriate
- The quality of data used in the calculations was suspect or unreliable in some way
- Procedural errors may render the results unreliable – the process for validating numbers was bad, wrong documents were relied upon, etc.
- Important information was ignored or glossed over -maybe it was detrimental to the other side’s case, which is why they ignored it
- Facts unknown to the other side materially affect the numbers – sometimes we know important things that they do not
Sometimes I will offer an alternative way to calculate the numbers, and sometimes I won’t. That is up to the attorney when he/she defines the scope of my work.
Rebuttal reports are very important because one side comes into a case and makes allegations about fraud or damages (or both). Who can dispute that? It is usually an expert on the other side who is retained to critically analyze the opinions and the basis for the opinions.