Forensic Risk Alliance
Audrey House, 16-20 Ely Place
EC1N 6SN, London, England
“Creative and results-oriented” Toby Duthie is “always the first choice for any forensic expert needs” compliment market commentators.
Toby Duthie is a founding partner of FRA with over 25 years’ experience in financial analysis, complex financial modelling, investigations and compliance reviews. He has particular expertise in multi-jurisdictional investigations, anti-bribery and corruption compliance testing, and specialises in matters of government enforcement. Toby has worked on many complex financial frauds, bribery investigations and regulatory settlement calculations, most notably leading FRA’s support of clients such as Airbus, ABB, Petrofac, Rolls-Royce, TechnipFMC and Total.
What have been the highlights of your practice over the past year?
My FRA colleagues and I have supported a number of clients through complex investigations to resolution around the world this year, including the French prosecutor’s €208 million settlement with subsidiaries of TechnipFMC (June 2023) and a Honeywell subsidiary’s $202.7 million settlement with US and Brazilian authorities (Dec 2022). A sizeable team of FRA forensic accountants and data specialists also advised multinational technology company ABB in the lead up to their $327 million settlement with US, Swiss and South African authorities (Dec 2022), in a case that US Attorney General Kenneth Polite described as “illustrative” with reference to the company’s extraordinary cooperation and remediation efforts (source: Justice.gov).
Expanding our geographical footprint to Dubai and Seoul has been another highlight. We are working more and more in emerging regulatory markets, building better understanding of the expectations of those authorities work and how we can help clients operating in those markets manage investigations and compliance risks.
What trends are you preparing for in the investigations and regulatory enforcement landscape?
FRA has specialised in white-collar crime since we founded the firm almost 25 years ago, yet we constantly see new types of risks and challenges evolve. We are building our team’s expertise in the cryptocurrency sphere, and pivoting our core anti-money laundering skills to the dynamic areas of sanctions as well as trade and export controls. Another area of concern is the use of off-channel communications at work and what the implications are for investigations and compliance.
Regulators in many jurisdictions are tightening their focus in these areas and enforcement could be aggressive, but best practice and regulatory expectations are still unclear. FRA’s combined expertise in resolving investigations and tailoring a risk-based approach to continuous compliance enhancement makes us trusted advisers to companies navigating this uncertainty.
What is the most challenging aspect about working on cross-border investigations?
Making your data speak persuasively to stakeholders and authorities is crucial. Technical and technological expertise is one thing, but also having the ability to draw insights and evidence that authorities will accept is another matter. Different jurisdictions bring different nuances that companies and their advisers need to appreciate if they are to resolve investigations with minimal disruption. This is especially important when working with different national authorities on the same investigation.
The long-standing relationships FRA enjoys with companies and counsel are built on this comprehensive offer: FRA has the technology and expertise to handle large volumes of disparate types of data efficiently, and we draw robust insight from that data to strengthen legal arguments or negotiations with authorities.
What are the most exciting developments in data analytics that practitioners should be aware of?
With the pervasiveness of data in almost every aspect of modern business operations, it is increasingly difficult to commit wrongdoing without some form of electronic footprint. Pre-dating this year’s furore over the implications of ChatGPT, our teams have been excited in recent years about applying AI and machine learning to detect anomalies and patterns in large and complex datasets that may indicate fraud, and which would not be observed by traditional analytics methods.
Investigators facing large amounts of unstructured data (e.g. emails, chat logs) will also benefit from rapidly evolving natural language processing techniques, able to extract critical insights and sentiments. Great advances in data integration and visualisation tools also promise investigations and compliance teams better insight from diverse data sources and in more dynamic, interactive formats that make it easier to drill down to the detail you need.
How important is it for forensic experts to have multidisciplinary expertise in accounting, financial evaluation and corporate finance matters? How can young experts gain this expertise?
When dealing with complex cross-border forensic investigations, it is rare for any two cases to require exactly the same expertise. At FRA we are proud to have built a varied global team of multidisciplinary experts because it is very important for forensic advisers to have the right expertise for each matter, if not at the individual level then certainly as a team. Clients benefit from a holistic, rigorous approach without having to coordinate with disparate teams of experts. We also see huge benefit in having a deep bench of language capabilities that we can deploy.
My advice to young experts is to always be curious and seize opportunities to learn from others in related fields, work for firms that give you those opportunities as we do at FRA. The best way to diversify is to get real world experience. Ultimately, taking initiative to build a unique combination of experiences will distinguish you.