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This paper briefly discusses the basic principles of evidence with which fraud and corruption investigators should be familiar, followed by their application to the proof of Corrupt and Fraudulent Practices. THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF EVIDENCE The two most important principles of evidence for investigators are See the typical elements of proof for fraud and corruption and the type of evidence needed to prove them, below.

Weight Several factors affect the weight of evidence – its reliability and persuasive power – including most importantly: The source of the evidence refers to the basis for a witness’s knowledge: is the witness testifying to what he or she knows for a fact, or what the witness overheard on the train, or what the witness supposes or thinks might have happened?

For example, a typical defense to fraud is that the false statement was made inadvertently or was a good faith mistake, or that a forged document was prepared and submitted by someone else; in a corruption case, as noted above, the bribe recipient often invents a legitimate source of income to account for his excessive expenditures.

Steps to discover and rebut these defenses should be a part of every investigation, and the information obtained should be included in the final report, where it often is the most persuasive evidence in the case.

If, for example, a witness admits he paid a bribe, ask for copies of the withdrawal slips, the wire transfer receipts or any other records of the payments; if the witness claims he met with the official to discuss the bribe, find out when and where they met, anyone else who was present, and request copies of all documents, such as travel records or credit card receipts, that would confirm the meeting.THE TYPES OF EVIDENCE This section briefly discusses the primary types of evidence in corruption and fraud cases, which are: Witness statements As noted above, in court, a witness usually may testify only to facts based on his or her direct, personal knowledge, and not on his or her speculation or opinion,[5] or information received from a third party, commonly referred to as “hearsay,” as discussed at page 10, below.Whether a case is headed to court or not, investigators always should try to ensure that a witness’s statement is based on his or her direct, personal knowledge, and if not, should try to identify and interview the person with such knowledge.Remember that circumstantial evidence can be used effectively to corroborate direct evidence, and vice versa.Rebuttal of potential defenses This is very important in most corruption and fraud cases and is absolutely essential in cases that rely heavily on circumstantial evidence.

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