STATUS AND PERSPECTIVE OF FORENSIC ACCOUNTING IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA / STANJE I PERSPEKTIVE FORENZIČKOG RAČUNOVODSTVA U REPUBLICI SRPSKOJ
Expert testimony is becoming one of the main validation activities in financial crime. It is also amongst the most criticized ones because it can significantly slowdown court proceedings, especially in complex expert assessments, which is often the case with economic and financial subjects. Forensic accounting experts, which are also known as forensic accountants, are increasingly being hired to provide expert evaluation on these subjects. Republika Srpska recognized the need for this profession timely by granting it legal legitimacy.
However, little progress has been made in its implementation in practice. This paper analyzes requirements and state of forensic accounting in Republika Srpska, and accordingly makes recommendations for further improvements such as gathering information of better quality that would help in financial investigations. Profession of forensic accountant is interdisciplinary and covers full range of different services, which signals the necessity to unify the criteria globally. So far, no such criteria exist nor are there any indications harmonization. Standard for required knowledge has been set by the American Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), which certifies financial forensic professionals with certificate in forensic accounting. The established criteria offer a solid basis for the detection, collection and presentation of evidence in the financial fraud expert process. Currently it remains unclear whether the forensic accountant acts alone or as part of an interdisciplinary team.
The knowledge currently offered by educators in Republika Srpska cannot bring quality in specific types of services, which primarily require specialist knowledge. For each type of service, it is necessary to define the characteristics, required knowledge and skills that a forensic accountant must possess. In accordance with such requirements, educational programs for forensic accounting need to be modified by providing guidance on their homogenization. Educational programs must be consistent with the actions of other participants in the implementation of forensic accounting, such as users, providers, educators, etc. With synergistic action, it is possible to raise the professional competence of the forensic accountant and align it with the requirements of the market. The ultimate educational outcome is to educate a forensic accountant so that he or she has specialist knowledge in accounting, law and auditing, as well as skills in the effective forensic accounting. Forensic accounting requires continuous learning and skills acquisition in accordance with the guidelines of international standards and recommendations, as well as good practical application.
The aim of this paper is to promote forensic accounting and the profession of forensic accountant as an expert with specialist knowledge and skills.
The future focus should be on improving the professional integrity of expert witnesses relating to more complex economic crimes, accelerating final report preparation, enhancing supervision of expert witnesses and their work, and sanctioning unprofessional behaviors.