One of the most difficult issues facing the auditing profession is that there are no auditing procedures that can provide absolute assurance in detecting all fraudulent financial reporting.
As a result, auditors have historically attempted to avoid the responsibility for fraud detection, albeit unsuccessfully. In the current environment, the public holds expectations of auditors with respect to fraud that simply cannot be fulfilled.
In a perfect world, auditors would concentrate primarily on prevention – not detection – of fraud. We all are aware that, from cancer to crime, it is much more effective to prevent problems rather than to deal with the aftermath.
The ACFE was a strident voice in adding prevention concepts to the new U.S. auditing standard on fraud, SAS 99. Although this is an improvement on SAS 82, it will not solve the whole problem and we propose a different approach that could be better for investors and for auditors.
As many members know, the ACFE studied and evaluated nearly 4,000 cases of fraud from 1996 to 2002 that covered asset misappropriations, corruption, and fraudulent statements.
The results subsequently were detailed in the ACFE’s “Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse” of the same years. To our knowledge, these represent the largest research projects on the topic.
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