‘Big Six’ set sights on super audit revenues

'Big Six' set sights on super audit revenues

With Sarbanes-Oxley potentially on its way out, the Big Four could well be lining up another lucrative source of income; super audits

At a minimum cost in excess of £100m a time, they could produce the next
stream of revenue.

It might be a cynical thought, but the proposal, of all those aired by the
‘Big Six’ firms at their Paris Symposium two weeks ago, does look somewhat
self-serving.

If they carry out the forensic audits, designed to root out fraud, they earn
huge sums. If they don’t, they may argue it is impossible for them to dig out
detailed issues in run-of-the-mill audits. There is one small problem, however,
and that is auditors already have the power to call in fraud-busters.

Chris Dickson, of the Joint Disciplinary Scheme, the accounting watchdog and
experienced investigator, said: ‘If an auditor has the requisite degree of
scepticism, then the process is always open for them to ask a forensic
accountant to look into the problem. I’ve never seen that happen. The facility
already exists to interrogate processes and internal controls.’

Dickson has seen enough audits in his time, having worked on investigations
into Robert Maxwell and its auditors Coopers and Lybrand, Polly Peck and
auditors Stoy Hayward, and BCCI and Price Waterhouse.

There would, of course, be a difference between bringing in forensic auditors
during an audit, which would be highly inflammatory, and a statutory forensic
audit every five years.

But for all the unnecessary suspicions raised, wouldn’t it be a whole lot
cheaper for UK Plc?

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