That an auditor has the responsibility for the prevention, detection and reporting of fraud, other illegal acts and errors is one of the most controversial issues in auditing, and has been one of the most frequently debated areas amongst auditors, politicians, media, regulators and the public Gay (1997). This debate has been especially highlighted by the collapse of both small and big corporations across the globe. The auditing profession in Nigeria has caught the media’s attention following financial scandals in some of the Nigerian banks such as Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank, Afribank, and Bank PHB among others. There seems presently to be a misconception that auditors’ duties are largely the preventing, detecting and reporting of fraud, for example, Idris (2009).
Fraud, according to Adeniji (2004:354) and ICAN (2006:206), is an intentional act by one or more individuals among management, employees or third parties, which results in a misrepresentation of financial statements. Fraud can also be seen as the intentional misrepresentation, concealment, or omission of the truth for the purpose of deception/manipulation to the financial detriment of an individual or an organization which also includes embezzlement, theft or any attempt to steal or unlawfully obtain, misuse or harm the asset of the organization, (Adeduro, 1998 and, Bostley and Drover 1972). Fraud has increased considerably over the recent years and professionals believe this trend is likely to continue. According to Brink and Witt (1982), fraud is an ever present threat to the effective utilization of resources and it will always be an important concern of management. ISA 240 ‘The Auditor’s Responsibilities to Consider Fraud in an Audit of Financial Statement (Revised)’ refers to fraud as “an intentional act by one or more individuals among management, those charged with governance, employees or third parties, involving the use of deception to obtain an unjust or illegal advantage”.
Aderibigbe and Dada (2007) define fraud as a deliberate deceit planned and executed with the intent to deprive another person of his property or rights directly or indirectly, regardless of whether the perpetrator benefits from his/her actions.
Weirich and Reinstein (2000 cited in Allyne & Howard 2005), define fraud as “intentional deception, cheating and stealing”. Some common types of fraud include creating fictitious creditors, “ghosts” on the payroll, falsifying cash sales, undeclared stock, making unauthorized “write-offs”, and claiming excessive or never-incurred expenses. Pollick (2006) regards fraud as a “deliberate misrepresentation, which causes one to suffer damages, usually monetary losses”.
According to Pollick, (2006) Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery andembezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries.Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.
The word corrupt when used as an adjective literally means "utterly broken". The word was first used by Aristotle and later by Cicero who added the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. Stephen D. Morris, a professor of politics, writes that [political] corruption is the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest.
Economist Ian Senior defines corruption as an action to (a) secretly provide (b) a good or a service to a third party (c) so that he or she can influence certain actions which (d) benefit the corrupt, a third party, or both (e) in which the corrupt agent has authority. Daniel Kaufmann, from the World Bank extends the concept to include 'legal corruption' in which power is abused within the confines of the law—as those with power often have the ability to make laws for their protection.
Albrecht et al (1995 cited in Allyne & Howard, 2005:287) classified fraud into employee embezzlement, management fraud, investment scams, vendor fraud, customer fraud, and miscellaneous fraud.
Fraud also involves complicated financial transactions conducted by white collar criminals, business professionals with specialized knowledge and criminal intent (Pollick 2006).
The director of companies are empowered to appoint, reappoint, and remove their external auditors and they are also to fix the external auditor‘s fees using the guidelines of the Auditor-General as an aid. The problem so created is that the directors are officers of the organization, who also have the responsibility of managing the funds, budgeting, spending including awarding of contracts and the preparation of financial statements. The same people who are therefore placed in a position to render stewardship accounts are now given the power to hire and fire‘ external auditors who would audit the accounts of their own activities. This runs counter to the ideal principles of public accountability.
Auditors in Nigeria are saddled with the responsibility of examining the financial statements of organizations for the purpose of ascertaining their truth and fairness. The auditing profession in Nigeria is regulated by a combination of three regulatory documents. The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), No. 1 of 1990 serves as the supreme regulator; while the Nigerian Standards on Auditing (NSAs) and Rules of Professional Conduct released by ICAN and ANAN for the members in practice. The main objective of these regulatory documents is to provide guidelines for the practice of auditing in Nigeria.
Although CAMA provides extensive provisions on the practice of auditing in Nigeria, it fails to specifically address the issue of auditor’s independence. However, it contains only guidelines as to the manner at which the auditors should be appointed, how they should function and to whom they should report to. The other two regulatory documents also do not capture explicitly what auditor’s independence means but rather require auditors to be independent and be seen acting as such. However, they provide detailed list of issues that surrounds the auditor’s independence.
The main thrust of ethical standards in auditing is to ensure and uphold the auditor’s independence (Jackling et al, 2007; Dearman and Beard, 2005). Independence has become an emotive word, a banner standing for freedom, integrity and all that is good. According to Aderibigbe (2005), the word independence has two distinct meanings. Firstly, it falls within a family of words implying an absence of relationship like unrelated, disconnected, isolated, remote and insular. Perhaps this is the reason why, in the olden days, auditors were often required to hold shares in their client companies so as not to be too independent. Secondly, independence falls within a family of words implying freedom from the exercise of powers; for example, free, unhindered, emancipated and free from dominance or influence, the independence of auditors in Nigeria has been frequently cautioned. The way at which Nigerian auditors secure their audit assignments and the rate at which they lobby for auditing job put their independence in jeopardy. Even though recognized professional accounting bodies in Nigeria, like ICAN and ANAN, are trying very hard to ensure best practice in the auditing profession via the enforcement of professional code of conduct for their members, the strict observance of such codes is still questionable.
The development therefore appears to put the auditor‘s investigative and reporting independence in jeopardy and this may defeat the purpose of public audit and erode the independence and hence, the objectivity of report of the auditors.
The aim of this research work is to examine the role of auditors in mitigating fraud and corruption in Nigeria with particular reference to Nigerian Breweries Plc 9thmile corner Enugu. The specific objectives of this research work includes the following;
1.4 Research questions
Based on the objectives above the researcher developed the following questions;
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