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Enforcement release evidence on the audit confirmation process: Implications for standard setters

Authors
Journal
Research in Accounting Regulation
1052-0457
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
22
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.racreg.2010.02.002
Keywords
  • Audit Confirmations
  • Audit Evidence
  • Confirmation Reliability
  • Aaer Evidence

Abstract

Abstract The audit confirmation process involves obtaining evidence from third parties about information affecting financial statement assertions. Recently, the confirmation process has drawn the attention of both regulators and practitioners ( AICPA, 2007a; IFAC, 2006, 2008; PCAOB, 2004) due to questions regarding whether this widely used audit procedure provides persuasive audit evidence. This paper examines confirmation-related evidence from relevant Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Releases (AAERs). Our findings integrate the confirmation process and enforcement release outcomes to provide guidance to regulators and researchers. Specifically, we found situations where fraud may have been detected if auditors had confirmed additional items such as material cash balances, marketable securities, and terms of significant transactions. We also noted (1) situations where management requested that auditors not confirm specific accounts, (2) several examples of collusion between the auditee and either vendors or customers, as well as related parties, and (3) cases involving failure to authenticate responses. Our detailed examination of enforcement release evidence provides implications for standard setters and areas for future research.

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