Litigation Archives - Emile Woolf writes

BANKING SCANDALS: CAN THE RBS SAGA TELL US ANYTHING NEW?

It’s not as if each successive banking scandal throws up new insights. The proverbial “innocent bystander” might reasonably suppose that, by now, something would have been learnt from the cyclical repetition of egregious behaviour and the crises it generates. Much of this behaviour is just plain foolish: unbridled credit expansion; lending practices landing banks with […]

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Useless Sanctions against Banks

‘ACCOUNTANCY’ – JANUARY 2017 MONETARY SANCTIONS? USELESS ON THEIR OWN Unfortunately for our profession, the ‘Big 4’ label may equally be taken to refer to HSBC, RBS, Lloyds and Barclays, which between them have incurred an eye-watering £50 billion in fines and lawsuits since the financial crisis began ten years ago. Their misdemeanours relate mainly […]

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Economic Perspectives 9 – Regulatory extortion and legitimising corruption

News media gloat over the eye-watering levels of retribution (in the form of fines and penalties) finally being meted out to aberrant banks found guilty of having violated securities laws leading up to the last financial crash. I find it astonishing, firstly, that it has taken close to 10 years to identify, formulate and punish […]

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Pension fund audits: time for a rethink

November 2016 “Accountancy” The central bankers’ obsession with interest rate cuts as a means of stimulating economic recovery reminds me of the “dare” games we played as children, such as “how long can you keep your finger in the candle flame?” Or, in banking terms, “how close to zero can you fix interest rates before […]

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Authenticating financial reports: a complete rethink is clearly overdue

  “Accountancy” February 2016 Hercules managed to clean out the Augean stables in a single day. We could do with a Hercules to clean up today’s money-grubbing world – although he may need a little longer: FIFA sleaze; athletics doping scandals; Volkswagen’s emissions-test cheating; drug manufacturer’s bribery charges; leading banks charged with mis-selling, rule-bending and […]

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Authenticating financial reports: rethink is overdue

Hercules managed to clean out the Augean stables in a single day. We could do with a Hercules to clean up today’s money-grubbing world – although he may need a little longer: FIFA sleaze; athletics doping scandals; Volkswagen’s emissions-test cheating; drug manufacturer’s bribery charges; leading banks charged with mis-selling, rule-bending and facilitating tax-dodging. How many […]

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Proper audits – are they really so difficult?

Regulatory scrutiny is an expensive waste of time and money if it focuses on the form but completely misses the substance. One wonders about the quality of diligence that preceded (and the audit work that followed) Olympus’s takeover of the UK Gyrus Group, when so-called “advisory payments” of $687 million, one-third of the entire acquisition […]

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PRUDENT ACCOUNTING – NEEDED MORE THAN EVER

Unaccountable accounting began three decades ago. I know, because I was there when it happened. As a member of the UK Auditing Practices Committee (APC), I acted as its observer on the Accounting Standards Committee (ASC). Professional life was simpler then: ASC set the accounting standards, effectively UK GAAP, and APC set the auditing standards. […]

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Auditors must not disregard the client’s culture

  How to gauge the effectiveness of audits? It is tempting to point to the growing scale of undetected irregularities and outright frauds and conclude that external audits are simply not fit for purpose. Yet there is no objective measure for assessing how much worse things would be without them. What if corporate propriety resided […]

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Financial rectitude: do the non-execs help?

Any columnist writing about financial misdeeds rarely lacks material. Buccaneering chief executives and ineffective auditors are invariably centre-stage – but what of the wise owls making up the panel of non-executive directors? How effective are they as a bulwark against executive opportunism or worse? I remember one prominent public company CEO, the darling of his […]

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