Michael Austel - Accredited Financial Investigators and Bank Statements

Michael Austel thought piece from the SOCEX Economic Crime Conference.

Having worked with almost every force in the country regarding financial investigation, and nearly all Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) powered government bodies, we’ve learnt a few key lessons over the years. Through our partnerships, and customers and experts we’ve worked with along the way we’re now sharing this experience of working with those conducting financial investigations abroad.

Before the Accredited Financial Investigator AFI, bank statements were historically underused as an intel resource for mainstream criminal investigation as well as financial investigation. With the Proceeds of Crime Act, AFIs could issue restraint orders, investigate and prove money laundering, issue production orders on bank statements, investigate and identify proof of criminality in financial data, and finally identify the proceeds of crime.

Putting the proceeds of crime at the end of that list was no mistake. While the key component of POCA, and arguably of an AFI, the emphasis on the confiscation of assets often overshadows the other key benefits of having trained and experienced financial investigators.  Bank statements are arguably an incredibly cost-effective intelligence source that can be used to support investigations. Time and time again we’ve been given anecdotes of how an AFI resource radically cut down the time of an investigation or broke open an investigation that had otherwise struggled.

 The following are all increasingly complex forms of criminality that are all arguably either profit driven or money dependent:

  • Drug Trafficking
  • Cybercrime
  • Fraud/Corruption
  • Human Trafficking
  • Money Laundering

This means that as well as the other intel sources – phone telephony, social media, DNA and forensics, bank statements can be found at the centre of the intelligence that can prove criminality, lifestyle, corruption, and beyond.

The reality is that POCA pays the way of the AFI in that it helps create the framework for targeting and funding their success, without necessarily drawing away from the resource of mainstream criminal investigation.  In enabling a network of AFIs in the UK they’re able to contribute their valuable skills to tackling crime, as well as taking the cash out of criminality. It’s for this reason that former Chief Constable and UK national lead for financial investigation Mick Creedon QPM referred to it as “the best and most powerful legislation in [his] career.”

 Altia-ABM, have been working closely with criminal and financial investigators for some 15 years and our specialist Financial Investigation software deals with the labour-intensive analysis of financial records to allow speedier and more focussed interrogation. This has resulted in significant increases in number and value of confiscation orders to disrupt organised crime gangs.