oppn parties Accounting Scandals Keep Tumbling Out

News Snippets

  • Amit Panghal becomes first Indian male to win silver at the World Boxing Championships
  • "Gully Boy" to be India's entry for the Oscars
  • Rajeev Kumar called an "absconder" by the CBI
  • Alipore court refuses to grant anticipatory bail to Rajeev Kumar
  • Trump likely to sign a mini trade deal with India next week
  • Government planning a loan mela to cover 400 districts in two phases
  • PM Modi says Kashmiris need a hug from all Indians
  • NPA tag will not be put on any MSME till March 20
  • Government likely to announce another economic stimulus package today ahead of the GST Council meet in Goa
  • Air Marshall RKS Bhadauria, slated to retire just a few days from now, to be the next chief of IAF
  • PM Modi slams politicians from his own party who are making irresponsible statements on the Ayodhya case and tells them to wait for the Supreme Court order
  • Telecom panel says resident welfare associations (RWA) cannot give monopoly access to any one service provider and infrastructure in public spaces and residential complexes will have to be shared by all
  • Mamata Banerjee meets Amit Shah, tells him there is no need for an NRC in Bengal
  • After 14 days, there is no hope left for reviving Vikram, the moon lander
  • CBI teams search for elusive Rajeev Kumar
PM Modi to address more than 50000 people at the Howdy Modi event in Houston today where he will be joined by the US president Donald Trump
oppn parties
Accounting Scandals Keep Tumbling Out

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

The chartered accountancy profession in India is passing through troubled times. With the regulatory body, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), acting like a spineless and mute spectator, the reputation of most accounting firms, including the big four, is taking a severe beating as audit scandals come tumbling out of the cupboard.

PwC had to endure a two-year ban as it 'failed' to detect the fraud in the books of Satyam Computer Services. More recently, Ernst and Young were suspended from bank audits as they 'failed' to detect the Yes Bank fraud. Now, the Enforcement Directorate has summoned executives of Deloitte and BSR & Associates (they work for KPMG in India) for the multiple frauds detected in IL& FS scam.

There is a growing perception in financial circles that these are not 'failures'. Experienced auditors like PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte & KPMG can point out cooked-up books in a flash. It is being alleged that auditors are colluding with managements to allow cooking-up of books. Auditors are turning a blind eye to accounting malpractices being indulged into by companies. From allowing concealment of losses and related-party transactions to ignoring fund diversion and even leaking insider information, accounting firms stand accused of unethical behaviour of all kinds.

The big four accounting firms have a firm grip on the profession all over the world. In India, they audit more than 70 percent of the big companies including groups like Tata. Since the government wants foreign investments to flow to India, it needs the backing of these audit firms. Hence, it has till now gone soft on them, despite their involvement in big-ticket scandals abroad and an increasing number of scandals in India. But with more and more scandals emerging, SEBI and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, along with the ED, are examining the role of these auditors with a fine toothcomb.

The problem is that the profession in India is dominated by small players (audit firms with less than 5 partners) and they do not have the wherewithal to take on these global giants. Most Indian firms are also not interested in joining hands and merging to form a big firm to take on these giants, here and in other countries too. In fact, some of them are more interested to get the work palmed off by these giants in sub-contract. The ICAI is also dominated by these small players and they are more interested in retaining their turf rather than bringing discipline in the profession or ensuring that members perform their duties honestly and ethically. The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), established with much fanfare in the aftermath of the Satyam scandal, remains a moribund body. Since the ICAI is either unwilling or unable to play the desired role in regulating the profession, the government must activate the NFRA, provide it with the required infrastructure and give it powers to ensure that audit firms maintain ethical standards and report all issues, even the smallest ones, with due diligence.

Pic courtesy: big4accountingfirms.com