Related Sector: Expert Witness
Dmytro Tupchiienko is a forensic accountant focusing on risk, compliance issues and regulatory work. He has over 25 years’ experience as locum tenens for professional services firms. Originally from Ukraine, he qualified as an expert witness in England and Wales in 2021, and then in Scotland in 2022.
How did you get into this field of work?
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics, I worked as a patent and intellectual property consultant with a small law firm in Ukraine. In 1997, I won a Reuters Foundation scholarship at the London School of Economics, and upon graduation, was immediately offered a position by a City of London mid-sized law firm to serve their Ukrainian client base.
In the following years, I was appointed as a monitoring and evaluation advisor on several international development projects in Central & Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Middle East (even briefly acting as an interim head of UNDP mission).
This involved an intriguing combination of accounting, auditing, and investigative skills, as well as writing reports on revenue losses and damages from contract breaches.
Conscious of my limited knowledge in certain subjects, I subsequently pursued a Diploma in Forensic Accounting, which enabled me to become a member of the Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants. Following completion of a direct entry route for the Institute of Financial Accountants, I also became a practising Financial Accountant.
One of my colleagues suggested that I complete a Bond Solon Expert Witness course – I have now been awarded the Cardiff University Bond Solon (CUBS) Civil and Criminal Expert Witness Certificates and the University of Aberdeen Bond Solon Expert Witness Scheme).
What does your typical day/week look like?
My working days and hours vary, as my clients are in different time zones. My overriding day-to-day priority is to always ensure prompt and effective communication.
My secondary priority is to check whether I have received any new assignments or contract work from the agencies that send me job listings once or twice a week. I liaise with relevant account managers, and they allocate me a particular job, whether it is preparing a report or just undertaking a preliminary document review.
Preparing and presenting the forensic accounting report is a vital part of the litigation process. Usually, it occurs in the final stages of the forensic accounting process. Like auditing, this report plays a crucial role in reporting the summary of this process, and serves as evidence in litigation matters to resolve the case.
A forensic accounting report presents a summary of the work done by me as a forensic accountant on a particular case. It must include my findings in view of the underlying issue. Based on this information, my clients can understand how the fraud occurred and the people involved.
My report also determines how to handle the case if litigation is to take place. It also presents my suggestions on the steps to take in the future. These recommendations can help my clients to prevent the occurrence of future incidents. Similarly, they focus on the areas where I find or suspect fraud.
These suggestions focus on reframing internal controls and security. Moreover, it points out any issues that exist in the identified areas.
Unlike auditing and financial accounting, forensic accounting does not involve specific formats and doesn’t fall under the scope of any standards. Therefore, such report may vary based on various factors.
Nonetheless, it must cover several areas and include them as a part of the final report. Some of the elements that contribute to preparing the forensic accounting report include presenting:
- the background;
- an executive summary of the company or matters under investigation;
- an area that describes the scope of the forensic accounting process;
- examination findings;
- internal control findings;
- a summary of identified red flags;
- the approach taken;
- the deliverables; and
- the conclusion.
I may also consult the online library or information database from time to time, when compiling my analysis.
What is the most interesting matter that you have worked on?
Due to my German speaking fluency, I was invited in 2015 to represent Kroll and Deloitte on a ‘Volkswagen Dieselgate’ case, initially in Stuttgart, and later in London. Although the quantity of financial data to be analysed for that particular case was limited, it allowed me to start receiving further assignments from the likes of ‘Big 4’, e.g. Cum-Ex affair or Libor scandal.
For confidentiality reasons, I cannot reveal much about these particular cases. However, in a nutshell, the Cum-ex scandal involved participants of a European network lending each other shares in large companies.
To tax authorities, the shares gave the impression that they belonged to two owners, when there was in fact only one. The trading bank involved would provide a "confirmation" to the investor that tax dividends had been paid. This was not actually carried out.
With regards to the LIBOR scandal, it was revealed that banks were falsely manipulating their rates. Their aims were to profit from trading, or to look more creditworthy than they were. It was speculated that during the 2008 financial crisis, certain banks had understated borrowing costs for the Libor which could have deceived others about their financial health.
Some of these banks were located or headquartered in either Germany or Switzerland. Whilst there were sufficient forensic accountants to analyse financial information in English, there were a lack of specialists who were bilingual in German and English.
The task turned out to be more complicated than expected as some of the information was written in local dialects, like Swiss German or Bavarian (both of which I understand).
Further interesting cases include the EU Horizon-2020 programme in which I acted as a monitoring and evaluation expert.
This task included a lead role in overseeing data collection, collation, storage, analysis, and reporting on several EU-wide collaboration projects to be financed by Horizon-2020 programme, ensuring that financial data is of high quality and audit worthy.
Additionally, I was instructed as an expert witness to the House of Commons' Brexit Select Committee in 2018, which included giving oral evidence to the House of Commons on the implications of the UK leaving the EU.
Select Committees have an important role in ensuring the full and proper accountability of the Executive to Parliament. By calling witnesses to appear at hearings, select committees hold the government publicly accountable for its policies and their implementation.
Many witnesses also come from outside government, including key stakeholders in a particular policy area or independent experts. These witnesses provide an important source of external input into parliamentary scrutiny and, ultimately, public policy.
What are the highs and lows of the job?
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have my occupation deeply aligned with my interests – finances, languages, and travel (in my job I visited over a dozen countries and advised several governments). Nonetheless, there are still low points. My first experience of this happened earlier in my career as a forensic accountant.
After dedicating months of my time and energy towards a project, I was suddenly told that the client settled the case. This was especially painful because the most exciting part of this litigation would have required my specific expertise. It was a deeply frustrating experience for me, and I felt crushed for an entire month.
This was the first time I had experienced a sudden and sustained low with my job, and I didn’t know how to react.
Thankfully, a more experienced colleague saw the situation unfold, coached me to let it go, and helped me move onto the next assignment.
He had been through similar challenges throughout his career and knew that discouraging situations would come and go - this was outside of our control. His perspective had enabled him to take a step back and see the bigger picture. I realised that this was a mindset I had to develop. Shortly after that incident, I took on a new assignment and rebuilt my energy and optimism.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start out?
I am an advocate of the Cardiff University Bond Solon (CUBS) Civil, Criminal and Family Expert Witness Certificates.
In my opinion they are well developed and adjusted to the needs of busy professionals like myself. Additionally, I would highly recommend attending as many expert witness events as practically possible.
My final suggestion would be to keep in close contact with agencies who will be marketing your expert witness services to potential clients such as barristers and solicitors.
Author: Dmytro Tupchiienko FRSA MBCS MCIL/CL MCIArb AFA/MIPA AMA CPFA
Mondale Services Ltd
This article was first published on 06 October 2022
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