Auditors and top European companies slammed over use of international accounting standards

The survey, which has been written by the IASC’s former secretary-generalDavid Cairns, examines the 1998 financial statements of 125 companies whichrefer to the use of IASs.

The survey concludes:

Some of Europe’s largest companies are among those which refer to the useof IASs but which do not comply fully with all IASs – examples includeRoche, Eni, Nokia, ING, RWE, LVMH, Saint-Gobain and Renault;

The auditors of almost half the survey companies do not express an opinionon compliance with IASs – instead the auditors refer only to compliance withnational standards;

The auditors of three survey companies (Saint-Gobain, Valeo and Roche)express ‘unqualified opinions’ when the companies disclose exceptions fromfull IAS compliance – this conflicts with International Standards onAuditing – PricewaterhouseCoopers is either the auditor or a joint auditorfor each of the three companies; and

While there is increasing convergence among national and internationalaccounting standards, national bodies have rejected some recent IASs – forexample, both Canada and Malaysia have continued to allow companies to deferforeign exchange losses.

The FT International Accounting Standards Survey 1999 also deals with thepossible endorsement by the International Organization of SecuritiesCommissions (IOSCO) of the use of IASs in cross-border offerings andlistings. The earliest possible date for IOSCO endorsement is May 2000 butthe process is likely to take longer.

The FT Survey also notes that 43IOSCO members (including those in Australia and the United Kingdom) have notyet implemented IOSCO’s 1993 endorsement of the IASC’s cashflow standard.

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