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Accountancy degree to tackle fraud

By Donna Deeney

A University of Ulster professor has said a new forensic accountancy course could provide the answer to the cuts facing government departments.

Graduates of the forensic accountancy course, which is the only one of its kind in Ireland, will be almost guaranteed employment as demand for this type of accountancy far outreaches the numbers of suitably skilled people.

Professor Murray said: “We may have all the necessary legislative ingredients to tackle the problem of economic crime, but there remains one missing component — the ability to investigate and present compelling evidence that will result in successful prosecutions.

“Trafficking in drugs and people, and fraud and financial crime costs the UK Exchequer alone £30bn per year, but this course will leave graduates with the necessary skills to battle against these crimes.

“The demand for people with this degree will come not just from the Department of Public Prosecution and the police, but also from banks, Department of Works and Pensions, the Office of Fair Trading and even the NHS and British Rail to name but a few.”

Professor Murray, a chartered accountant and a well-known economic analyst and commentator, has worked extensively with Ulster Business School staff in designing the new BSc Accounting and Managerial Finance course which has been introduced at Magee this semester.

Professor Deirdre Heenan, Acting Provost and Dean of Academic Development, welcoming Professor Murray, said: “The university here at Magee has a leading role in the partnership efforts to regenerate Derry.

“Gerry's appointment is further evidence of our commitment to blending academic excellence and practical experience to the ultimate benefit of students, staff and the community whom we serve.”

Professor Murray, who is from Derry, is a key authority on the subject as he holds an MSc in Forensic Accounting from Sheffield-Hallam University and is an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for Investigative and Police Sciences at City University, London.

He paints a detailed picture of the importance of forensic accounting in both criminal and civil legal cases, saying: “In essence, forensic accountants are tasked to penetrate the web of deceit, uncover reality and present their findings in a clear and coherent manner.

“Following the money trail is important in both criminal and civil law cases. Fraud investigations increasingly call for the services of the forensic accountant.

“A forensic accountant must be part detective and part accountant while analysing, investigating, testing and examining evidence in order to present expert testimony.

“This requires knowledge of financial and managerial accounting, corporate financial management, advanced computer skills, a good knowledge of the legal environment and strong communication skills.”

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