KPMG in the UK has been fined by the Financial Reporting Council for what only can be described as pretty poor auditing.
The situation behind the fine involves professional scepticism, or to be more precise, a lack of professional scepticism.
Professional standards define professional scepticism as “an attitude that includes a questioning mind, being alert to conditions that may indicate possible misstatement due to fraud or error, and a critical assessment of audit evidence.”
Or to put into simple words, to question and challenge what the client is saying and not to simply accept what they are saying at face value.
KPMG were fined £700,000 (which was reduced to £455,000 for early settlement) and reprimanded former senior partner for Manchester, Nicola Quayle for a “failure to apply sufficient professional scepticism”. Nicola was also fined £45,000 (reduced to £29,250 for early settlement).
The reason for the fine was because the FRC held that KPMG had failed to obtain and document sufficient audit evidence in relation to supplier-funded rebates.
These were “complex supplier arrangements” and KPMG should have been on alert to pay particular attention to “these types of complex supplier arrangements.”
Claudia Mortimore, deputy executive counsel to the FRC, said: “This is a measured and proportionate package of sanctions, which balances on the one hand the limited nature of the breaches, which did not call into question the truth or fairness of the financial statements, with the fact that auditors should have been on alert to pay particular attention to these types of complex supplier arrangements. Professional scepticism remains at the core of an auditor’s duty and the FRC will take appropriate action where it has been lacking, as in this case.”
This event took place back in the 2015/16 financial year and KPMG in the UK released a statement saying:
“We regret that specific aspects of our audit of this company for the 2015/2016 financial year did not meet the required standards.
As the FRC makes clear, there is no question as to the truth and fairness of the financial statements. Audit quality is of paramount importance to our firm and we have updated our audit processes and procedures to address the areas of concern.”
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