Negligence & Liability 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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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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Defective Accounting Standards & Failed Regulation

“Accountancy” Magazine – October 2016 Standard-setting or obfuscation? The accounting world has become shrouded in complexity, largely of its own making. Here’s an uncontroversial statement of its original purpose: “To report the results of an entity’s economic transactions in accordance with well-understood and generally accepted accounting principles”. Here is an equally uncontroversial statement: No enterprise would […]

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Post-Brexit opportunities – and regulatory failures

“Accountancy” Magazine: September 2016 In the wake of Brexit, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is urging companies to engage in dialogue with their auditors on whether specific disclosures are needed in their annual strategic report. This, for many companies, will provide a key focus for members, potential investors and financial journalists. Drafting its section on […]

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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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