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Satyam scam: Auditors in the line of fire
January, 08th 2009
The Enron scandal of October 2001 had brought not only the management under scanner, faced with angry investors and prosecutors, but also its accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Now, with Satyam's chairman confessing to fraud, the spotlight turns on auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers that seems to have missed out huge craters in Satyam's books. CB Bhave, Sebi Chairman said, "The managements responsibility and the responsibility of the entity auditing these accounts are the issues that we will need to go into and see where exactly the failure has occurred. Meanwhile, even the body that oversees the accounting firms isn't backing down either. Ved Jain, President of ICAI, said, Its a very serious issue. People repose so much of faith in auditors and in what they do. If we find any of them at fault, we will take very strict action." Even as the investigators question Satyam's top management, the burden is likely to be shared by the audit firm, which has not explained how it missed the fraud, for several years. Raju had said earlier in the day, The gap in the balance sheet has arisen purely on account of inflated profits over a period of last several years.'' According to Amit Mitra, Secretary General of FICCI, first the internal audits are carried on and then there is an external audit, that is, a reputed firm from outside the company looks into the accounts. That too failed," said Mitra. In the Enron saga, Andersen was the firm found guilty of obstructing justice, lost credibility and virtually shuttered as an accounting firm. Now, PricewaterhouseCoopers, it seems will have an equally hard time, convincing clients why it should still be trusted with accounts.
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