Forensic Accounting & Financial Investigation

Professor Kelly Kingsly

Independent; Copperstone University ; Charisma university

Date Written: September 2, 2016 Download this paper


Forensic Investigation is trending. It is emerging and fast becoming a veritable tool in financial crimes curtailment and/or eradication. This mini project work proposes to examine the concept of Forensic Investigation as an emerging phenomenon particularly as it affects developing nation.

Forensic science is the scientific method of gathering and examining information about the past which is then used in a court of law. The word forensic comes from the Latin forēnsis, meaning “of or before the forum.” In Roman times, a criminal charge meant presenting the case before a group of public individuals in the forum. Both the person accused of the crime and the accuser would give speeches based on their sides of the story. The case would be decided in favor of the individual with the best argument and delivery. This origin is the source of the two modern usages of the word forensic – as a form of legal evidence and as a category of public presentation. In modern use, the term forensics in the place of forensic science can be considered correct, as the term forensic is effectively a synonym for legal or related to courts. However, the term is now so closely associated with the scientific field that many dictionaries include the meaning that equates the word forensics with forensic science.

Early methods: The ancient world lacked standardized forensic practices, which aided criminals in escaping punishment. Criminal investigations and trials heavily relied on forced confessions and witness testimony. However, ancient sources do contain several accounts of techniques that foreshadow concepts in forensic science that were developed centuries later

For instance, Archimedes (287-212 BC) invented a method for determining the volume of an object with an irregular shape. According to Vitruvius, a votive crown for a temple had been made for King Hiero II, who had supplied the pure gold to be used, and Archimedes was asked to determine whether some silver had been substituted by the dishonest goldsmith. Archimedes had to solve the problem without damaging the crown, so he could not melt it down into a regularly shaped body in order to calculate its density. Instead he used the law of displacement to prove that the goldsmith had taken some of the gold and substituted silver instead.

The first written account of using medicine and entomology to solve criminal cases is attributed to the book of Xi Yuan Lu (translated as Washing Away of Wrongs), written in China by Song Ci (宋慈, 1186–1249) in 1248, during the Song Dynasty. In one of the accounts, the case of a person murdered with a sickle was solved by an investigator who instructed everyone to bring his sickle to one location. (He realized it was a sickle by testing various blades on an animal carcass and comparing the wound.) Flies, attracted by the smell of blood, eventually gathered on a single sickle. In light of this, the murderer confessed. The book also offered advice on how to distinguish between a drowning (water in the lungs) and strangulation (broken neck cartilage), along with other evidence from examining corpses on determining if a death was caused by murder, suicide or an accident.

Methods from around the world involved saliva and examination of the mouth and tongue to determine innocence or guilt. In ancient Chinese and Indian cultures, sometimes suspects were made to fill their mouths with dried rice and spit it back out. In ancient middle-eastern cultures the accused were made to lick hot metal rods briefly. Both of these tests had some validity since a guilty person would produce less saliva and thus have a drier mouth. The accused were considered guilty if rice was sticking to their mouths in abundance or if their tongues were severely burned due to lack of shielding from saliva.

Fingerprints: Sir William Herschel was one of the first to advocate the use of fingerprinting in the identification of criminal suspects. While working for the Indian Civil Service, he began to use thumbprints on documents as a security measure to prevent the then-rampant repudiation of signatures in 1858.

In 1877 at Hooghly (near Calcutta), he instituted the use of fingerprints on contracts and deeds, and he registered government pensioners’ fingerprints to prevent the collection of money by relatives after a pensioner’s death. Herschel also fingerprinted prisoners upon sentencing to prevent various frauds that were attempted in order to avoid serving a prison sentence.

In 1880, Dr. Henry Faulds, a Scottish surgeon in a Tokyo hospital, published his first paper on the subject in the scientific journal Nature, discussing the usefulness of fingerprints for identification and proposing a method to record them with printing ink. He established their first classification and was also the first to identify fingerprints left on a vial. Returning to the UK in 1886, he offered the concept to the Metropolitan Police in London, but it was dismissed at that time.

Faulds wrote to Charles Darwin with a description of his method, but, too old and ill to work on it, Darwin gave the information to his cousin, Francis Galton, who was interested in anthropology. Having been thus inspired to study fingerprints for ten years, Galton published a detailed statistical model of fingerprint analysis and identification and encouraged its use in forensic science in his book Finger Prints. He had calculated that the chance of a “false positive” (two different individuals having the same fingerprints) was about 1 in 64 billion.

Keywords: Forensic Accounts, Finance Investigation, Fraud, corruption, growth, development

Suggested Citation: Kingsly, Professor kelly, Forensic Accounting & Financial Investigation (September 2, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

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