15.7 Smoking Gun
Although everyone on the investigative team wanted to find a smoking gun, such as an e-mail from a senior executive saying, "I'm going to lie about the numbers to increase my yearly bonusthe SEC be damned," no such e-mail was found. In addition, no single financial report, PowerPoint presentation, or word document clearly indicated that any individual was a party to fraud or that any fraud had indeed taken place.
Instead, the investigation was an iterative process in which we discovered information piece by piecedraft financial reports, reports marked confidential, e-mails between suspectsand shared it with the accountants to review. Each time we gave them some such material, they reviewed it and suggested that we look for more of the same.
Sometimes the accountants came to us with leads. For example, they might ask us to do a search on the name of an off-shore corporation to see what might turn up. In some cases, a great deal of relevant data was discovered; in other cases, nothing came up. In this back-and-forth process, the case for fraud was built.