In its report on bribery and corruption, ‘No longer business as usual’, released last week, the OECD said that the skills of an accountant make him or her specially qualified to unravel complex criminal schemes.
The OECD’s working group on bribery in international business transactions believed that the external auditor had a unique opportunity to subject records to critical analysis and had a clear responsibility to alert management to potentially illegal conduct.
The report concludes the responsibility for detecting fraud resides with company management, but auditors should be sufficiently sceptical and ensure detection if there was a material effect on financial statements.
Aileen Beattie and James Barbour, directors for accounting and auditing at the Scottish Institute and co-authors of the report, said that accountants would be well placed to take an active part in the fight against corruption, but they were not the soldiers on the ground.
They said the increasingly international nature of business had created an urgent need for internationally accepted rules in both financial reporting and auditing.
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