En revisors agerande : Inför tillämpningen av anmälningsplikt och tystnadsplikt
Abstract (Summary)During the end of the 1970s many debates were held concerning the bad quality of accountingand the increase of white collar crimes. Due to this fact many debaters also discussed the role andfunction of the auditor. This resulted in an introduction of an information duty that later developedinto a reporting duty that was bound by law the 1st of January 1999. The professional secrecywhich had been a part of the auditors’ occupational role since a long time now came inconflict with the new law. The auditors themselves meant that they did not want to act as moralcops. At the same time the auditors and several body considering proposed legislations, such asFAR and SRS thought that the reporting duty would bring a lack of information from the clientsince they would not be willing to give out enough information due to the fear of being reported,which thus would complicate the work of the auditor. On the other hand the government regardedthe auditors to be the premier tool in the fight against white collar crime, since they as theonly occupational group have total insight in the activity of companies.Simultaneously, the auditors’ role as crime preventer has lately been questioned, since the numberof reports from auditors has been low in comparison to the number coming from bankruptcymanagers and tax managers. Nevertheless the number of reports from the auditors has increaseddrastically since 2004. Therefore we have with this study aimed to investigate which factors thatare affecting the acts of the auditor in the application of reporting duty and professional secrecy.In such an application a conflict of ethical and moral nature often occurs towards the client andthe prosecutor. At the same time it is required that the auditor has juridical capabilities to decidewhether a crime has been committed or not. This is dependent on the education of the auditor,which according to earlier studies within the field of subject differs between big and small accountingfirms. The greater the insecurity the auditor feels in deciding whether a crime has beencommitted, the higher the rate of proof demanded.In order to investigate these factors in relation to the auditors’ actions towards the application ofthe reporting duty and the professional secrecy we have chosen to perform a quantitative study.This has been done with the help of a questionnaire that has been handed out to five big and fivesmall accounting firms within the city of Jönköping. Apart from closed questions we have includedopen cases directly taken from The Authority of Economical Crime’s report- “an auditorsviactions when suspecting a crime”. The result from the questionnaire has then been presented indiagrams made in Excel.In order to get background to the data we have collected we need a relevant theoretical framework.The primer source to the auditors’ measures is found in the Law of joint-stock companies(ABL). However, extensive custom and law terms have been developed to facilitate the auditors’decision in crime suspicion. Furthermore, The Authority of Economical Crime has given guidanceand outlines for the rate of proof and more basic definitions of the law terms that concernsreporting duty since the law leaves it to good auditing custody to decide upon. It is also relevantfor our study to look upon how ethics and morals affect the auditor in business contexts and alsowhether or not the auditors have received education regarding the reporting duty.Our study shows that almost all participants have received education concerning the reportingduty but that the majority despite this demands higher rate of proof than The Authority of EconomicalCrime outlines before taking actions when suspecting a crime. At the same time we believethat the auditor takes on a role of duty and puts all ethical responsibility on the accountingfirm, since the comments from the cases imply that the auditors would act without consideringthe ethical aspect of the situation. The auditor’s actions is dependent on the size of the accountingfirm, since our study has shown that auditors from small accounting firms have had a greaterpractical use of the reporting duty, which according to us can be a result of the external educationthey have received. At the same time our study confirms Anderson and Buskas (2006) researchwhich implies that larger firms have lower tendency to report a crime against a client. Still the resultsfrom our cases show that participants mostly act according to the outlines conducted byThe Authority of Economical Crime and the existing law regulations. Therefore our final conclusionsare that the auditor protects the professional secrecy and would rather not violate it but thatthe reporting duty has lately been considerably more implemented in the auditor occupationalrole, which is furthermore shown by the increasing number of reports made by auditors’.
School:Högskolan i Jönköping
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:04/10/2008