Investigator since 1984
What I once had in mind was becoming a teacher of economics. I wanted to be a passionate teacher who shared his insights and love for economic processes. I even obtained my first-degree teaching qualification. But things turned out differently.
In 1984 I became a State Auditor at the Tax and Customs Administration, where I worked for seven years. I learned to passionately describe facts in the context of a circumstance, within a relevant legal framework. In fact, I still do that in most of my assignments to this day.
I learned a lot at the Tax and Customs Administration. We were the first to learn to see the taxpayer as a customer, although said taxpayer may not have been quite ready for that yet. I still do not see a person involved in an investigation as my opponent, but as a person or legal entity in which I have an interest, who must be able to make his case properly and must be protected in his rights. Only then can a sense of justice be created, which is so important to avoid inequalities.
After a period of 4 years as a tax consultant at Loyens & Volkmaars, I joined KPMG in 1995 as a chartered accountant in the forensic accounting profession. At that time, fact-finding was usually aimed at establishing unlawfulness. I learned a lot about fraud and integrity and what motivates people to give a false impression with the intention of obtaining an undue advantage. Yet this is not the essence of the profession of forensic accountant; the interpretation belongs in the legal domain and not in that of the fact-finding investigator, who, moreover, is rarely a behavioural scientist.
Nowadays, having held senior positions at Andersen, EY and Grant Thornton, among others, I am both an expert in independent financial economic research and an expert in integrity and fraud management, and sometimes these two areas come together, for example when an auditor comes across indications of fraud in his audit or when an organisation suspects corruption or fraud. And the great thing is that in addition to carrying out investigation and consultancy assignments, I now also teach a lot in my areas of knowledge, with passion of course, and thus gradually learn more and more from behavioural science.
An assignment must always serve a legitimate interest and be relevant. I don’t look for ways to specifically target someone. My role is to carry out independent fact-finding in order to clarify a statement for the purpose of finding the truth. This can be done as an expert in a lawsuit or as a forensic accountant in a fraud investigation. But I always want to know in advance what the outcome of my investigation will be used for. Only then is an investigation relevant.
Passion, energy and commitment drive me to do my job as well as possible. I am not flawless and always invite my client to refute my findings, to contradict them, until we know that we are right or that our differences of opinion are permanent, but that we do at least agree on that.
An expert investigator always determines what (closed) question their client wants to answer with the results of their investigation. The investigator checks with his client what he intends to do with the results of the investigation.
On the basis of this knowledge, the investigator establishes the legal framework within which the investigation takes place. That legal framework will determine the further design of the investigation.
Within that framework, the investigator formulates the factual (open) investigation questions to be answered factually and the resulting plan of action, so that the client gets exactly the facts he needs to answer his question and justify the intended action.
That makes an investigation relevant.
The results of an investigation do not depend on the choice of one or the other expert investigator. The opinion or judgment of the investigator is irrelevant.
The investigation is free of values and does not lead to a judgement by the investigator, but provides the foundation underneath the judgement by the client, the lawyer or the court.
An investigator records his sources and the results for each claim in his report. The authenticity of the sources and results should be recorded as well as possible.
An interview report is valuable if it turns out to have been shared with the interviewee and has been received back with corrections. If this was done by e-mail, the file includes the related e-mails. Preferably, the file should also include a sound recording of the interview.
An investigation that is designed to be relevant should always be reproducible. Another expert investigator should arrive at similar results with a similar design.
In fact, an investigation design can be seen as a set of specifications for the construction of a house; if you put all the building blocks together in an agreed manner, the same structure is created.
Koninklijke Nederlandse Beroepsvereniging van Accountants
Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
Start in time!
Clearly, time is an important factor in expert investigation. Therefore, please contact me as early as possible. Not only does this ensure better file creation, but it also saves you time.