THE HOT NEW phrase among the professional classes is forensic accounting, a term which conjures up images of white-gloved accountants in labs looking for clues to catch killers.
Is it as cool as it sounds?
“Occasionally it’s like that. But other times it can be really dull, involving painstaking re-examination of ancient files,” an accountant told me.
To demonstrate, she sent me a cutting from an issue of Forensic Accountant Newsletter.
A Canadian judge threw a case out of court because a witness was too boring to endure, it said.
The judge said the man was "beyond doubt the dullest witness I've ever had in court... [he] speaks in a mono-tonal voice and uses language so drab and convoluted that even the court reporter cannot stay conscious."
The judge closed the case with the classic words: "I've had it. Three solid days of this steady drone is enough. I cannot face the prospect of another 14 indictments. it's probably unethical but I don't care."
So there we have it—a whole new type of legal defense: bore the judge beyond endurance.
This is almost as offbeat as a defense used by a man from Pingtung, Taiwan, who was furious after being booked for speeding.
In the space on the speeding ticket in which he was supposed to write his name, motorist Hsu Huei-yuan, 27, instead wrote a three-word phrase (F* Y* M*) urging the police officer to have an Oedipal relationship with his mother.
Police asked the courts to jail him for three years for insulting an officer.
Hsu came up with an astonishingly creative argument. He said the three-word phrase WAS his name. It was a nickname he’d been called since childhood, he claimed.
Consider this item from a Tokyo newspaper:
“The Yamaguchi-gumi organization is undergoing a restructuring with four of its units due to be rationalized out of existence to forestall cash-flow problems.”
It sounds like a typical business report—until you remember that the Yamaguchi-gumi is one of the world’s biggest criminal gangs. Does the group’s financial officer refer to the chief hit man as the “human resources officer” and contract killing as “downsizing”?
Anyway, NO WAY am I going to make jokes about these dudes. After the head and body of Japanese gangster Tadayoshi Koshi were found separately in the Yamato River, Osaka, police said it was a case of suicide. It must take a REALLY tough guy to cut his own head off.
Or consider the case of the robber who entered McDonald's in Sydney, waved a knife at staff and demanded cash from the till.
Staff told him that there was an accounting rule that they could not open the cash register unless someone bought something.
The cash-strapped raider was stumped. He peered at the price list of the Big Macs and french fries.
Embarrassed, he apologetically withdrew his robbery threat and left empty-handed.
So there we have it: accountancy stops crime.
(Illustration from collegehumor.com: Sometimes your name is going to make life a problem for you…)
Your narrator is sitting at his desk on a Friday morning writing this, having finished his large cappuccino, and wondering whether to go for a second one.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks to be a humorist—when a big disaster with happens nearby, one has to deliberately tone down the laughs, toeing the line between being topical and being seemly. But even the gentle level of postings in the past few weeks has been too much for some publishers.
Never mind. I think everything will get back to normal by next week. Do send me some ideas for new topics to investigate—newsy ones if possible. What am I working on? There have been a couple of cases of people who have been wrongly declared dead trying to prove they are alive, with limited success—if you stumble across similar cases, or have thoughts on the subject, add them to the comment column, or email me – email@example.com.
Also, I notice it is Bangladesh’s 40th anniversary today—we have LOT of readers from that country, including Farah and Mahjuja, so happy birthday to all of you guys.