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WWL says

Christopher Osborne earns widespread accolades as "a great investigator and forensic accountant".

Questions & Answers

Chris has more than 20 years’ experience of disputes; fraud; bribery and corruption investigations; regulatory inquiries; and compliance and risk advisory assignments. That includes a three-year secondment to the Serious Fraud Office and a secondment to the Financial Services Authority as a financial investigator. He joined FRP in 2016 to set up and lead the forensic services team, and has acted as a party-appointed expert on behalf of claimants and defendants; as a single joint expert; and as an expert determiner. He has opined on matters including lost profits, misappropriation of funds, and warranty claims.

How has the market changed since you first started practicing?

Forensic accounting is now a much more widely recognised subset of the accountancy sector. When I first joined the industry over 21 years ago, I worked for the first independent forensic advisory boutique in Europe. It had been spun out of PriceWaterhouse for conflict reasons, as more people were recognising the importance of conflict-free accounting, and that appreciation has definitely grown over time. People recognise the skills of a forensic accountant now more than ever before.

What were the main challenges of setting up the forensic services practice at FRP?

A successful practice is built on its people, and hiring the best talent in a competitive market is never easy, but thankfully we were able to secure some key individuals from the start.

The other challenge we faced when first setting up the forensic services practice at FRP was our profile: while we were well known individually for forensic services work, FRP as a business was predominantly known for its restructuring services. As the team and the practice have grown, we have worked hard to ensure the FRP brand is also well recognised in the investigations and disputes market.

It was also a challenge matching resource to the level of work coming in, through both internal and external referrals. It was only a couple of months between launching the practice and FRP securing the BHS mandate. This included a significant data-capture exercise and substantive forensic accounting analysis as part of a wide-reaching investigation, making it the first high-profile job the team worked on.

What types of mandate do you enjoy working on the most in your practice?

We work on a range of mandates, from international arbitrations and valuations through to contentious insolvencies and fraud investigations, and it’s this variety that makes work really enjoyable. I enjoy the challenge of expert witness work, as well as the dynamic nature of live investigation work, especially on multi-jurisdictional matters – so it’s great to be able to do both.

What qualities and skills do forensic accountants need to succeed?

Forensic accountants need to have an inquisitive mindset and a close eye on the detail; be able to process a large volume of information; and clearly understand the accounting and legal concepts that are relevant to the case. It’s also really important to be able to communicate technical accounting terms and complex situations in a manner non-accountants can understand, and to be aware of how technology can assist you.

While it’s not essential to have a legal background, it can help. As forensic accountants, we need to have an appreciation of the legal framework in which our work fits. You don’t do forensic accounting in isolation; it’s typically part of a wider investigation or dispute whereby lawyers will be developing a legal strategy – be that in civil, criminal or regulatory proceedings – and the forensic accountant needs to understand the case strategy and legal arguments being made, so the work they are doing is always relevant.

How do you use technology to assist in investigations?

Nowadays, having to trawl through boxes of hard-copy documents is unusual, as nine times out of 10 these documents are now electronic. This has had a huge impact on how we service clients and the time scales within which we can do so. With electronic documents, it’s a lot easier to find the things we are searching for, and this speeds up an investigation and makes it more cost-effective.

We also use AI and machine learning to further speed up the review process. With AI capabilities, the technology learns from us as subject experts – so while the human element is still essential, we can use the technology to help us get to the end point as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Technology has also had a positive impact on how people work. As demonstrated during the covid-19 pandemic, as long as you have an internet connection, you can work effectively from anywhere in the world.

How are you handling all steps of the investigations process in the covid-19 lockdown environment? 

For all intents and purposes, working from home has been seamless, and the technology has worked very well. We can do the vast majority of what we would usually do in the office from home, including assisting our global client base. There are only ever a few occasions where we need to physically collect devices or data in order to process it for an investigation. This can be done easily with social distancing measures in place and, as our team has adapted to new ways of working, we haven’t seen any interruption to business as usual activity.

Do you involve colleagues from other practice areas in your investigations work? How does this enhance your services?

I’d like to think it is the opposite way around. We work hand in glove with our forensic technology colleagues, and in partnership with our teams that specialise in contentious insolvency. Many of the mandates we’re instructed on require a multitude of skills and we can build multidisciplinary teams to tackle complex, often high-profile cases.

In which direction would you like to steer your practice in the next five years?

We’re planning to continue our growth trajectory and will invest in the team to bring more talent on board. London remains our biggest market, but the benefit of being flexible and dynamic is that we can assist clients all over the UK and internationally.

I also plan to retain our focus on developing the people within the team. Forensic accounting is a fascinating career, and I want to ensure all of our people have a clear career plan so we can retain that talent at FRP.

Global Leader

Asset Recovery - Experts 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say:

"He is really excellent. -I really trust Chris' judgement"
"He has great forensic insight and crucially has years of experience in running and supporting high-value fraud claims"
"He is extremely responsive, reacts quickly to instructions and understands what the end outcome needs to be"

Biography

Christopher Osborne leads FRP Advisory's forensic services practice. He brings over 20 years of experience of forensic accounting including fraud, bribery and corruption investigations, expert witness services, asset-tracing and recovery investigations, regulatory inquiries and compliance and risk advisory assignments. Christopher also oversees FRP Advisory’s forensic technology practice, which delivers data acquisition and eDiscovery services to law firms and corporates.

Christopher’s work covers a multitude of industry sectors including construction, financial services, retail, professional services, technology, pharmaceuticals and aviation.  

His assignments are often international in nature and involve significant asset tracing and recovery work. Recent significant cases include investigations into the demise of BHS, a fraud investigation on behalf of a major charity, investigations and asset tracing in relation to a high net worth individual in the context of a matrimonial dispute, an investigation on behalf of an overseas enforcement agency, an internal investigation on behalf of a professional services firm, and a high-profile bribery and corruption investigation.

Christopher has worked on a multitude of civil and criminal fraud cases in the course of which he has conducted extensive under caution and witness interviews.  He has been seconded to the UK's financial regulator and also worked on behalf of the UK's Serious Fraud Office.

Christopher has been appointed as expert witness on multiple occasions by both claimants and defendants, as single joint expert and expert determiner. Recent experience includes opining on the quantum aspects of a professional negligence claim, a number of loss-of-profits claims including business interruption, misappropriated monies lent in respect of property developments and the fraudulent conduct of a joint venture partner, which included a successful application for a worldwide asset freezing order.  He has been cross examined in the High Court and in international arbitration. 

Christopher’s advisory practice includes working with clients on compliance issues, and reviewing systems and controls to mitigate the risk of fraud.

Christopher is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has an LLB law degree.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

"He has an excellent reputation as a forensic accountant"
"He has a very good understanding of the various legal claims which exist in relation to fraud proceedings"
"Christopher is everything you want from a forensic accountant"
"He is able simplify complex matters for the court with ease" 

Biography

Christopher Osborne leads FRP Advisory's forensic services practice. He brings over 20 years of experience of forensic accounting including fraud, bribery and corruption investigations, expert witness services, asset-tracing and recovery investigations, regulatory inquiries and compliance and risk advisory assignments. Christopher also oversees FRP Advisory’s forensic technology practice, which delivers data acquisition and electronic disclosure services to law firms and corporates.

Christopher’s work covers a multitude of industry sectors including construction, financial services, retail, professional services, manufacturing, technology, pharmaceuticals and aviation.

His assignments are often international in nature. Recent significant cases include investigations into the demise of BHS, a fraud investigation on behalf of a major charity, investigations and asset tracing in relation to a high net worth individual in the context of a matrimonial dispute, an investigation on behalf of an overseas enforcement agency, and a high-profile bribery and corruption investigation. Christopher has worked on a multitude of civil and criminal fraud cases in the course of which he has conducted extensive under caution and witness interviews. He has been seconded to the UK's financial regulator and also worked on behalf of the UK's Serious Fraud Office.

Christopher has been appointed as expert witness on multiple occasions by both claimants and defendants, as single joint expert and expert determiner. Recent experience includes opining on the quantum aspects of a professional negligence claim, a number of high value loss-of-profits claims including business interruption, misappropriated monies lent in respect of property developments and the fraudulent conduct of a joint venture partner, which included a successful application for a worldwide asset freezing order.  Christopher has been cross examined a number of times in the High Court and International Arbitration.

Christopher’s advisory practice includes working with clients on compliance issues, and reviewing systems and controls to mitigate the risk of fraud.

Christopher is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has an LLB law degree.

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