TaxCorporate TaxA standard that nobody likes

A standard that nobody likes

Is there anyone who supports the IASB’s new standard on 'segmental reporting'?

Senior figures at the body may well be asking that, after investors launched
into the standard, which they say gives too much power to company management to
manipulate the accounts.

Earlier, tax campaigners had tried to convince the board to adopt a
country-by-country approach to reporting. That would help with transparency on
tax and other issues, it was thought.

But the final draft, which gives power to management to adopt whatever method
they choose, is now being attacked by investors who say it is open to abuse.

The Investment Management Association and the UK Shareholders Association are
among those objecting to various points.

The standard points to a ‘decision-maker’ as being responsible for picking
company segments. Who is that, they ask?

It could be anyone from the financial director, chief financial officer or
company board.

The standard hands over all power to that decision-maker to judge exactly
which areas or segments of the business to report on. And it goes on still
further to give that decision- maker a wide berth to change his or her mind on
segments from one year to the next.

Richard Murphy, one of the campaigner seeking a country-by-country approach,
said: ‘The data doesn’t have to reconcile with the auditor’s accounts, which is
staggering. And they don’t have to use the same process of accounting for
segments as they do for the rest of the accounts. Therefore the accounts are
totally and utterly open to manipulation.’

IFRS8 has also proved unpopular in Australia, where academics from the
University of Canberra said: ‘Given that general purpose

financial reports are supposed to convey an “image” of an entity’s health and
performance, the report should be based on standards that are designed to
produce an image more like an impressionist painting in the style of Van Gogh,
rather than something from Picasso’s experimental period.’

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