SINGAPORE (Aug 2): Auditors using the search engine Google to screen clients as part of due diligence; senior auditors not spending enough time reviewing or supervising client audits; spouses of audit partners violating the firms’ policies on independence…

These are just some of the findings that the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore notes in the 2018 public edition of its Practice Monitoring Programme (PMP). In these annual reports, ACRA, which oversees public accountants, highlights areas for improvement after inspecting auditors, their practices and processes, and compliance with Ethics Pronouncement 200 requirements, which governs anti-money laundering and terrorism financing.

Still, ACRA notes that the industry is on track to achieve its audit quality target of cutting by 25% the proportion of inspected audits of listed entity engagements with at least one finding.

According to the 2018 report, the audit deficiencies noted during engagement inspections were mainly in relation to insufficient audit procedures.

The report does not provide details of errant firms — such as their names or the companies they had audited, and whose audits might be problematic given the lapses — and whether those errant firms are still in business. Instead, ACRA’s website lists public accountants whose licences have been suspended or cancelled, as well as public accountants whose audit work is under review.

The audit industry is under increasing scrutiny and pressure from the market following a slew of problems at a number of listed companies. Auditors have given to go for some financial statements, but was later found that the accounts were inflated or there was outright fraud.

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