Friday, February 03, 2006

Newspaper Cutting

Sebenarnya keempat2 mereka ada Australian Citizenship. Dalam kelas tu aku sorang aje yang tak ada citizenship.

THE University of Wollongong has let loose a new breed of bean counter after the first year of its unique masters in forensic accounting program.

Four students -- two from Australia, one from Poland and one from Canada -- completed the full-time online course late last year and are now equipped to pore over company books with unprecedented analytical skills.
The forensic accountants are trained to look for "red flags'' even before they get to the financial records room.

They have been trained in interviewing techniques that will show up dishonesty and evasiveness; they will know how to judge a company's situation by the demeanour of management and staff; and they will be able to analyse in finer detail the mountains of data they will mine.

Forensic accounting had been a part of life at big firms for years but Wollongong was the first university in the world to take the discipline, hitherto taught in-house, to the university level, course co-ordinator Kathie Cooper says.
This year, 35 students from across the world have signed up for the one-year program.

Part-timers can take longer but, because the course is online, most candidates are able to continue in full-time work.

They are only required to be on campus for a three-day intensive residential for each subject.

This year's intake of students includes a lawyer with the ACT Department of Public Prosecutions, accountants in insolvency practices, a senior examiner at the Central Bank of Malaysia and a university auditor from Indonesia.

News of the degree was spread by word of mouth among accountants, helped along by support and advertisements from the professional body CPA Australia.
Teacher Annamaria Kurtovic, of Wollongong's school of accounting and finance, says forensic accountants would have been able to prevent or at least lessen the impact of some spectacular corporate collapses in recent years, such as Enron in the US and HIH and Harris Scarfe in Australia.

"Auditors had never been taught to look for fraud and that is the reason we had so many collapses overseas and in Australia,'' Kurtovic says. Auditors had only been taught how to sift through the rubble after the event, looking for a cause.
Now, forensic accountants can look for trouble spots before a collapse takes the business, and its investors, down. And the proliferation of mum and dad investors in the past decade means there are now far more potential victims of corporate catastrophes.

Cooper says: "Ideally, forensic accounting is not just dealing with fraud, it's getting information ready for public debate or a court case.''
Students in Wollongong's masters program take part in moot court cases, where their efficacy as expert witnesses will be tested. Real lawsuits will be used as case studies, with students from the university's law faculty acting as judges and prosecutors. Kurtovic says students would be taught to look for red flags.

"We will teach them to look at the culture of management: do they seem cold and evasive on certain issues?
"They will look at staff levels, qualifications and abilities, dissatisfaction of employees: you need to be able to talk to people at all levels.
"We will teach interviewing techniques and how to identify dishonesty,'' she says.
Cooper says the graduates would be trained to advise companies how to get themselves out of trouble to avoid a collapse. "The idea we had was that the forensic accountant could go into a firm if cracks were appearing and do an assessment and say, `You've got weaknesses here and here and here, you must put these practices in place','' she says.

"It's not just a case of going in after the fact; they identify problems before they get out of hand.''
They would look for evidence of what is known as "the fraud triangle'': opportunity, motivation and rationalisation.

"They would look for people with financial problems or people who were very entrepreneurial, because they are more likely to cut corners,'' Cooper says.
The course was many years in the making. Cooper and Kurtovic had identified a need for a certain kind of detailed knowledge and worked towards designing a course that would help prevent disasters.

"It was a long process: we thought about what we wanted to achieve, what would help business, and we looked at what was missing from the regulatory framework which caused such collapses,'' Kurtovic says.
THE first cohort of graduates from the masters in forensic accounting course have made sure they will stay in touch.

Even before they had finished study, they had plans to start up an industry body.
The Institute of Forensic Accountants was born last month with eight foundation directors: three of the four graduands; two other students and the three-member teaching team of Kathie Cooper, Annamaria Kurtovic and Judith Marychurch.

Kurtovic says: "We needed a body that forensic accountants could be a part of.
"Also, it will be a point of contact for lawyers looking for an expert witness, because there was no one place where they could look previously.''
The group will hold conferences and offer short courses. It also plans to launch a journal next year.
By Brendan O'Keefe, The Australian, January 18 2006


Post a Comment

<< Home