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ICAI for audit review by outsider
February, 07th 2009

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India will pass a ruling directing all firms to get their internal audits reviewed by
an `outsider'.

Speaking to TOI, Uttam Prakash Agarwal, who has replaced Ved Jain as president of ICAI with effect from February 5, said that this practice of an external firm reviewing the internal books of a company on a regular basis would help check auditing discrepancies.

"It might not be able to put an end to such fraudulent practices, but it will restrict them," said Agarwal, adding "internal auditors
are employees of the firm who can never work against the management. An outsider has no such obligations and, therefore, can do a fairer job." The accounting regulator has also decided to put cases such as those of Satyam on fast track in the future so that they can be disposed of sooner. "These are public interest cases and need immediate attention. Putting them on fast track will ensure that required action on such cases is taken at the earliest," he said.

Agarwal was in Hyderabad for an IRDA meeting.

To allegations about ICAI being soft on Price Waterhouse (PW) and its tainted partners, S Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri, Agarwal said that the institute had very limited powers and were in no position to do anything more than what they have already done. "We have issued notices and given them (the partners) 21 days time to submit their statements. So we will have to wait for that before we can take a decision on them," the newly elected ICAI president said.

On Price Waterhouse, Agarwal said, "If we were given enough powers, we could have even shut down PW if needed because these two partners are just a part of a larger group of people from the firm, involved in the scam. But unfortunately we do not have the right to do so."

The ICAI chief also complained of negligible support from other government institutions in the functioning of ICAI and cited it as a reason for the institute's failure in certain cases.

Agarwal further rued the lack of support ICAI gets from the Reserve Bank of India, Income Tax Department or other wings of the government.

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