The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) has released for exposure Proposed Changes to the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants Related to Provisions Addressing a Breach of a Requirement of the Code.
The IESBA believes that any breach of a provision of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (IESBA Code) should be treated as a matter of utmost importance. Therefore, the IESBA has proposed changes to the IESBA Code that will provide guidance to a professional accountant on the action to be taken in such situations.
The proposal includes a robust framework for addressing a breach of an independence requirement that will result in greater transparency. This Exposure Draft is the result of a project that commenced in 2010.
The proposed changes to the IESBA Code include a requirement that a professional accountant take whatever actions that might be available as soon as possible to satisfactorily address the consequences of a breach of a provision of the Code.
For a breach of an independence requirement in the IESBA Code, a detailed framework is provided setting out the action to be taken. Specifically, the proposed changes would require a firm to:
* terminate, suspend, or eliminate the interest or relationship that caused the breach;
* evaluate the significance of the breach and determine whether action can be taken to satisfactorily address the consequences of the breach;
* communicate all breaches with those charged with governance and obtain their agreement with the proposed course of action; and
* document the actions taken and all the matters discussed with those charged with governance and, if applicable, any relevant regulators.
“The proposed changes to the IESBA Code should help to ensure that the significance of any breach of an independence requirement is discussed with those charged with governance, and that professional judgment is taken into account when taking action,” states Ken Dakdduk, IESBA Chair.
Dakdduk says that an auditor resignation due to an independence violation—regardless of the magnitude of the violation—has potential consequences to the company, its investors, and the capital markets.
"The proposed framework will guide accountants, and those charged with governance, in determining whether resignation is an appropriate outcome or whether a different outcome can be supported. In addition, disclosure will enhance transparency, and the proposed documentation requirement adds a degree of rigor to the process that will be very useful.”
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