Enron Archives - Emile Woolf writes

The Auditing endgame is nigh

“ACCOUNTANCY” August 2018 Beginning of the end for the status quo of accounting – and auditing! “That which is crooked cannot be made straight” (Ecclesiastes 1,15). I am not suggesting that accounting is inherently crooked, but it is currently plagued by a “disconnect” between compliance and truth – hardly reflected in the Institute’s motto: “recte […]

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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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Never too big to jail!

The easy option is rarely the right one No one knows what would actually happen if any of the “too big to fail” banking and investment giants were actually allowed to do just that. The untested perception is that a destructive contagion would spread beyond the immediate circle of investors and depositors to engulf the […]

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To survive, auditors must raise their game

Have giant corporations outgrown the ability of even the largest audit firms to report safely on their accounts? Complexity, geographical reach, exponential growth in the number and size of transactions leave auditors struggling to do justice to their authentication processes. The greater the size of the client entity, the more that can go wrong. This […]

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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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Fudging the figures for Euro entry? That’s putting it mildly

Chicanery means “clever but misleading talk; a false argument; trickery; deception” (Concise Oxford Dictionary). This phenomenon seems to be prevalent wherever you look. For example, the European Economic Community began as a free-trade association. Then it was driven well beyond mere economic affiliation to become a complex, undemocratic, political combination whose promised benefits have evaporated. […]

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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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Tax and accounting are the drivers: but where are they taking us?

Purists maintain that accounting and taxation should be neutral in terms of economic impact. Decision-making should be based on what’s good for the business – for its customers, staff and shareholders – without distortion by complex tax and accounting rules. But we have strayed: there is scarcely a decision untainted by daunting tax or accounting […]

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Back to square one: Accounting safeguards do not work

The most sombre issue to emerge from the world’s current financial woes is that of trust. Putting it succinctly, who can you trust in markets where it pays to deceive? it was all in conformity with existing EU accounting rules.. Take Greece’s desperation to sell its bonds to reduce the size of the European bailout. […]

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