Negligence & Liability Archives - Emile Woolf writes

HBOS, KPMG & FRC – a trio mired in scandal

“ACCOUNTANCY” – DECEMBER 2017 HBOS, KPMG & FRC – a trio mired in scandal How much credence can shareholders of public companies safely attach to financial statements that carry a “true and fair” imprimatur from their auditors? Big-4 firms hold the lion’s share of public company audit appointments, yet they are regularly found to have […]

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Institutionally Gullible – loan-loss provisions

“ACCOUNTANCY” – JUNE 2017 Banks, criminality and accounting: end of the road?  All those banks and other financial institutions that have gone bust, or been bailed out, over the past 20 years demonstrate that the sector’s corporate conduct has been wayward, to put it mildly. That these dodgy outfits are located in the UK, USA, […]

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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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Clarity or obfuscation?

Cashing in on complexity: the ultimate conflict Last month I deplored the unfathomable regulatory maze into which accounting rules have descended, noting its utter irrelevance to stakeholders’ needs. I condemned the vast tracts of clutter in company reports that leave little room for anything potentially useful, and I denounced the massive sums wasted on consultancies […]

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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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“Excessive regulation is the enemy of transparency”

December 2016 “ACCOUNTANCY” Excessive regulation is the enemy of transparency Government departments, lacking the relevant expertise themselves, often grant extensive powers to professional bodies responsible for overseeing the activities of their members. The chief problem with this growth of administrative (compared with constitutional) law is accountability. Given such powers, professional bodies hardly expect to be […]

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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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