Examining Arthur Andersens audit of Enron Essay

Arthur Andersen ‘s audit of Enron has been the most noteworthy failure of hearer independency, but it was by no agencies the first, the largest, or the last. The Enron audit was the 4th major audit failure impacting Andersen since 1999. At one clip, Enron was the 7th largest house in grosss in the United States and was extremely touted as being an advanced seller in natural gas and electricity. ( Chaney, P. K. , 2002 )

After Enron ‘s ( October 16, 2002 ) third-quarter net incomes proclamation, Andersen ‘s independency from Enron began to be questioned because the audit house had provided important non-audit services to Enron in add-on to its fees associated with the Enron audit. Andersen received $ 47.5 million in fees from Enron. Of this sum, $ 34.2 million, or 72 % , was audit related and revenue enhancement work. Entire fees for other services totaled $ 13.3 million. Besides, Enron had outsourced some internal audit funcitons to Andersen. For this information, Enron has come under review for potentially fly-by-night direction and a clear deficiency of independent fiscal monitoring. Furthermore, U.S. regulators found that the company ‘s hearer, Arthur Andersen, conspired to conceal accurate accounting informations from the populace. ( Chaney, P. K. , 2002 )

Independence requires that these audits be carried out without prejudice or subjectiveness. Simply stated, hearers are required to be independent from and unbiased by their clients ‘ involvements. Outside hearers are hired to supply an independent, external sentiment that can attest the truthfulness of a house ‘s ain fiscal studies. If it were non for the claim of independency, there would be no ground for outside hearers to be, as their map would be excess with those of a house ‘s inside hearers. The confidence of independency is important to all of those who rely on audited fiscal statements for dependable information sing a house ‘s fiscal wellness, including investors, loaners, employees, and strategic spouses. ( Sean M. O’Connor, 2004 )

Accounting houses by and large have inducements to avoid giving “ bad intelligence ” to the directors who hire them and pay their auditing fees, non to advert their extremely profitable consulting fees. The nature of this hearer mistake has three systematic causes. First, the hearer can perpetrate fraud by wittingly publishing a more favourable audit study than is warranted. This may happen when the hearer accepts a payoff or bows to client force per unit area or menaces. Furthermore, the hearer can be unduly influenced by holding a direct or indirect fiscal involvement in the client. Last, the hearer can be unduly influenced because of holding some personal relationship with the client beyond what is expected in a normal audit between independent parties.

To keep independency, hearers have to follow professional behavior and moral moralss which require hearers to guarantee they do non execute direction maps or do direction determination is relevant with their client houses. This seems to connote that the audit performs a consultancy map which conflicts slightly with the thought of auditor independency. The value of scrutinizing depends to a great extent on the populace ‘s perceptual experience of the independency of hearers. It is non surprising that independency is the first topic addressed in the regulations of professional behavior. Independence is a important construct that sets hearers apart from the accounting profession, as their nucleus mission is to attest the public studies that describe companies ‘ fiscal position. By showing an sentiment, the independent hearer assumes a public responsibility. The map of “ public watchdog ” demands that the hearer subordinates duty towards the client in order to keep complete fidelity to the public trust. The hazard in the deficiency of independency is that the stockholder as a category who reads and relies upon the fiscal statements upon which the hearer has rendered an sentiment to its hurt has a cause of action against the hearer. To function such a category of individuals an hearer needs to take an indifferent point of view when executing audit trials, measuring the consequences therein, and publishing an audit study and sentiment with regard to fiscal statements. ( Moore, D. A, 2004 )

In another point of position, the grosss generated from confer withing may be sufficiently big to act upon the hearer ‘s judgement sing questionable accounting policies. In other words, the menace of the hearer going excessively closely that is involved with the involvements of the managers, particularly if jobs arise with the Inland Revenue. It could be argued that this menace is mitigated if different forces are involved in executing the personal revenue enhancement work.

To maintain away from hearer independent job, prohibition of other services is important. It has been suggested that hearers should be prohibited from executing any other work for client companies. Consequently this would take the self-interest menace of losing moneymaking work if the hearers displease the managers. Furthermore, the policy of compulsory rotary motion of audit spouses for a peculiar audit is suggested as a agency of bettering audit quality and hence increasing the quality of all-purpose fiscal statements. The benefits usually espoused are that the independency of the engagement spouse is maintained or that a new position on the audit may ensue in the designation of issues that have been overlooked on old audits. So sporadically mandate rotary motion of hearers is deserving adverting. For illustration, if the audit house is changed sporadically every five to seven old ages, hearers will non go excessively familiar or trusting of managers. Besides hearers would be less concerned about losing an audit that will be rotated in the close hereafter anyhow. Additionally this would hold cost deductions as first audits are more clip consuming and the recommendation has non surprisingly proved unpopular with clients every bit good as audit houses. However, no uncertainty in an effort to be seen to turn to this issue, the Rules of Professional Conduct now province “ in relation to the audit of listed companies no engagement spouse remains in charge of such an audit for a period transcending seven back-to-back old ages. An audit battle spouse who has ceased under the above proviso should non return to that audit until a lower limit of five old ages passed but is non precluded from other engagement with the client ” . ( Zhao, S. , 2006 )