The modern world is complex. Disputes and litigation are now more global than local, increasing the complexity of financial and business issues. To make critical decisions, dispute and litigation investigators need to be comfortable with financial and business data. Modern day tools and their complexity make achieving reasonable comfort challenging. Forensic data analysis is used to achieve this comfort and give investigators the ability to navigate these issues. Imagine a regulatory driven litigation where, for example, a company’s transactions need to be tested against various sanctions program data. This task of comparing possibly millions of individual transactions to sanctions information is near impossible without applying appropriate data analysis techniques.

Data analysis is a broad term, but in general it refers to the processes used to analyse data. Looking at the processes at a high level, one would analyse the data environment, basically understanding where the data resides. Next, load, prepare and validate the data. Lastly, analytics are used to test and report on the data. By using the forensic approach, data analysis gives one the ability to apply analytics to make case-critical decisions.

The common first question in disputes and litigation cases is what evidence is needed. This includes identifying where the data resides. In today’s market place, organisations have vast amounts of data spread across complex interwoven infrastructures. To illustrate, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems overlap with legacy payment systems interacting with third-party procurement systems. Sophisticated processes have to be carefully constructed and executed to properly identify the data to comply with litigation or regulatory disclosure. These processes are also used to search for patterns and anomalous transactions or to verify or dispute creditor claims. This is a critical step in the investigation and an interdisciplinary team approach is used. Data analysis technicians team up with investigators to understand the data and the direction of the investigation.

Oct-Dec 2013 issue

PricewaterhouseCoopers AG