Professional Practice Archives - Page 5 of 6 - Emile Woolf writes

Audit scope: we need a Court case to sound a wake-up call

The relevance of any set of accounts obviously wanes as time passes. Vast, complex multinational conglomerates, required by law and market expectations to present published financial statements within strict deadlines, can manage this process if well-governed, but auditing those statements within the same time frame can present even the largest audit firms with serious logistical […]

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Clear? Coherent? Transparent? Intelligible? How would you describe our reporting standards?

UK accounting standards are celebrating their 40th birthday: Statement of Standard Accounting Practice No.1 on associated companies was issued in 1971. The initiative was given a boost in 1973 following exposure of Robert Maxwell’s deceits at Pergamon Press. In a hotly contested takeover battle Pergamon’s share price was supported by accounts that included a wildly […]

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Can rules-based accounting facilitate fraud? Enron revisited

We are approaching the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Enron. Have the lessons been learnt? Enron was the US energy giant that failed only 12 months after its share price rated it seventh largest corporation in America. A handful of tenacious journalists penetrated the miasma of filed data and revealed that the bulk of […]

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The cycle of litigation – be warned

Litigation warning – remember the cycle!  The pattern of litigation tends to be cyclical since it shadows the economic cycle. When there is general prosperity and businesses flourish there is still plenty of litigation (when is there not?) but its character reflects boom-time activity. Businesses buy other businesses and then claim that they overpaid. Although […]

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Reforming banks’ governance is not possible without real sanctions

The reforms recommended by Sir David Walker for the governance of banks would, if implemented, impose a huge moral responsibility on executive and non-executive banking directors alike. The will to exercise independent judgment without regard to personal advantage – whether money, power or status – is a rare commodity in commercial life, and it cannot […]

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Now we know: the ‘booming’ economy was a huge Ponzi scheme

Now we know: the booming economy was a huge Ponzi scheme Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi fraud is now legendary. Yet the fabric on which our entire credit explosion rested was just as illusory as Madoff’s investment fund. It existed in appearance only. The toxic financial instruments, so neatly packaged by investment houses before being […]

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Did weird accounting support the credit disaster?

It has been argued that hi-tech accounting wizardry, including the “fair value” principle of valuing current assets at market value, has played a devilish part in the present credit meltdown. After all, it allowed banks to overstate their assets and understate their liabilities with recourse to off-balance sheet “structured investment vehicles” that everyone thought had […]

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Disclosure of auditors’ papers: more misconceived EU regulation

The EU has been at it again. Its Statutory Audit Directive requires auditors ceasing to hold office to give their successors access to all “relevant information” if the successors request it. This misguided dictum is being introduced as an amendment to our Companies Act 2006 and a new Audit Regulation is being drafted. “Relevant information” […]

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Prescriptive accounts? I’d rather they were understandable

Interpretation of those magic words “true and fair” has long been the subject of philosophical debate.  International Accounting Standard (IAS) 1 requires companies merely to present their accounts “fairly”, which has always been the US formulation.  The IAS regime does, however, insist that any international standard which the EC is proposing to adopt must not be […]

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