PracticeAuditCall to prosecute over audit information

Call to prosecute over audit information

Withholding information from auditors should be made a criminal offence for third parties, according to suggestions from the body examining audit quality

The idea, which the Hundred Group of Finance Directors immediately suggested
was currently covered under current legislation, will worry many who are already
smarting from the introduction of a ‘reckless auditing’ criminal offence in the
Companies Act.

It may well be seen as another unnecessary burden on business.

The Audit Quality Forum has raised the issue of criminalising third parties,
which might include bankers, company directors and staff, and other creditors,
to highlight their importance to the quality of audits.

Chairman of the AQF working group Stephen Lewis, said: ‘The group believes
that public policy makers need to be aware of the impact that third parties
could have on audit quality.

‘It could be possible to make it a criminal offence for third parties to lie
to auditors,’ he added.

Ken Lever, chairman of the Hundred Group’s financial reporting committee,
suggested this obligation was already covered under current legislation: ‘It is
already a requirement under S234Z for directors to represent that they have made
information available to the auditors. This appears in the responsibility
statement given by the directors in respect of the financial statements.’

The British Bankers Association said that the proposal should not affect its
members, stating that when receiving ‘valid authority’ from auditors banks
already provided ‘full information’.

‘There is no reason why they should not do so,’ said a spokesman.

A copy of the paper can be found at
auditqualityforum.com 

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