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Accountants aware of senior staff’s unethical activities

More than one third of accountants are aware of a senior staff member deliberately going ahead with unethical misleading accounts or advice, according to research by job board CareersinAudit.com.

Half of the accountants surveyed also stated they have been pressurised or know someone that has been pressurised by a manager or partner to ignore an adjustment that should have been made to a set of accounts.

Offences reported by accountants included:

  • “The senior manager advised on how to escape tax authority”
  • “Actions [by the accountant] led to misleading reports to the board”
  • “A client [GP] was bribed with goods, a holiday and meals if he switched products to a cheaper one”

It still remains that some accountants refused to disclose any misconducts stating that it was a confidential matter.  However, 38% of accountants revealed that they would confront their boss directly if they suspected they were participating in unethical actions.

Not enough has been done to protect an employee against victimisation or dismissal should they report a misconduct of a colleague, said 65% of the accountants surveyed.

CareersinAudit.com’s managing director Simon Wright said: “It’s now 17 years since the Enron scandal came to light. Yet since then, there have been other accounting debacles. Our research reveals there is still a way to go to ensure the profession is adhering to ethical working practises.

“Whilst the majority feel they would directly report misconduct, there is clearly a disjoint between the intention and reality of conduct in the profession.

“There is to some degree an underlying concern about the repercussions for towing the ethical line; whether this is about losing their job, losing a client for speaking up, a risk in promotion or damaging their career reputation. More has to be done, not only at a company but industry level to create a code of practices which encourages the right working culture to report fairly and without fear.”


By Mishelle Thurai

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