BBC Radio Leeds – Mark Forrest – 6 February 2015
On Friday, Stowe Family Law’s Head of Forensic Accountancy Nick White was interviewed by Mark Forrest on BBC Radio.
He was asked about people who hide bank accounts from their partners, and how a forensic accountant goes about finding them.
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MF: Mark Forrest
NW: Nick White
MF How many of us might keep a secret bank account that our partner doesn’t know about? Money that is stashed, hidden away just in case. I guess if the worst happens you can get your hands on it. I’m going to talk to a fellow now who specialises in ferreting out what you might have squirrelled away. Nick White is the head of forensic accountancy at Stowe Family Law. Nick good evening.
NW Good evening.
MF I suppose you must have met quite a few of these cases where money has been hidden and the person who hid it thought it out of harms way.
NW Indeed, all the time.
NW Yes, the work that I do there is always somebody, one party or the other is always trying to shall we say gain an advantage over the other.
MF So the idea here is if a couple who are splitting up they are trying to down play their assets.
NW Well they’ll try down play their assets, up play their liabilities, down play their incomes, its natural because what they want to accomplish is to keep the most for themselves.
MF And if you want to hide away money, where do you put it?
NW Anywhere and everywhere it can be as simple as the bank around the corner or as complicated as trust assets and companies in the Caribbean.
MF And if you are tasked with trying to ascertain just how much him or her is really worth how to you go about starting to uncover what they’ve done?
NW Slowly, slowly catch the monkey I think is the answer to that. You use everything that’s available to you by information within the public domain but most of all you talk to your client, and you find out about lifestyle where they go, you find out about what they do, and you gradually piece things together, get the information you need by way of disclosure then gradually it will all come together there will be things that just don’t stack up in what your being told
MF And if the other party starts to get an inkling of what you’re up to at that point do they just bury the money ever deeper or do they put their hands up and say “it’s a fair cop”
NW I think its rare that they put their hands up and say “it’s a fair cop.” What they may try to do is dress it up in that they are sorry they didn’t I forgot about this particular asset I did really mean to tell you about it all along but I have only just remembered I had it. If they realise we are on to them it will generally try and bring them out of the woodwork and do a deal before they get asked about it at open Court.
MF And generally do you reckon or do you claim that you can track down most assets however well hidden they are
NW It’s a difficult one because there’s always the person that will ring me up after this programme and say you looked at my affairs four/five years ago and you didn’t find ‘x’ so I think that would be a very dangerous claim to make.
MF Probably very wise. What advice generally do you have for couples, because it clearly was an interesting report that came out today much discussed across the airwaves of local radio. When couples do get together clearly they will have had their own accounts. At that point should everything be pooled and shared and should they be totally open with each other about what they’ve got.
NW I would say that its best to be totally open with each other about what you’ve got but whether or not you choose to amalgamate your affairs and run everything through one joint account or whether you decide to do it some through one account, some through another it whatever works best for the parties
MF What works best for the head of forensic accountancy at Stowe Family Law
NW That would be telling
MF Do you have any secret accounts you are admitting to
NW Well I’d better not say anything as my wife’s in the next room but maybe it’s a question I ought to be asking her
MF Nick I’ll let you have the last word on that one, great to talk to you. Nick White head of forensic accountancy at Stowe Family Law