Would you have done this if you were an Ernst & Young partner?

An Ernst & Young (EY) partner has been rather naughty. In fact, I should straight away say that he quickly became a former EY partner as soon as EY found out what he had done.

So, what did he do?

Well, put it this way but it wasn’t the most professional of things to do.

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is the main “watchdog” of the US auditing profession. As part of their quality review procedures they look at samples of audit working files of registered audit firms.

EY were selected for a review and in particular the audit of one of the clients of Peter O’Toole, an EY partner who had been with the firm for 20 years.

Now, it appears that Mr O’Toole’s work on this particular client wasn’t exactly complete and he tried to hide the fact that the work was incomplete by going back to the audit files and doing a quick “tidy up“ before the PCAOB visit.

Working together with a senior manager (who unsurprisingly is also now no longer with EY), Mr O’Toole created fake documents about work they said they had completed hoping that these fake documents would go unnoticed and the PCAOB would sign off on the audit files.

Alas for Mr O’Toole the backdated fake documents were identified and his dishonesty was found out.

If there’s one key lesson from this it’s probably that it’s best to be honest and not try to cheat with things.

As a result of faking the documents, Mr O’Toole lost his job of 20 years with EY, was barred from auditing for 3 years by the PCAOB and had to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.

If instead of trying to falsify things he had simply owned up to his mistake the chances are that he would have had a “slap on the wrist” and would still be in his job.

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