AI 13: Illegal Acts by Clients: Auditing Interpretations of AS 2405

The auditor should be aware of and consider auditing interpretations applicable to his or her audit. If the auditor does not apply the auditing guidance included in an applicable auditing interpretation, the auditor should be prepared to explain how he or she complied with the provisions of the auditing standard addressed by such auditing guidance.

View AS 2405, Illegal Acts by Clients

Summary Table of Contents

1. Consideration of Internal Control in a Financial Statement Audit and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

.01        Question—The auditing standards require the auditor to obtain a sufficient understanding of internal control to plan the audit and to determine the nature, timing, and extent of tests to be performed. Is the auditor of an entity subject to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 required, because of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and the provisions of AS 2405, Illegal Acts by Clients, to expand his consideration of internal control beyond that which is required by AS 2110, Identifying and Assessing Risks of Material Misstatement?

.02        Interpretation—No. There is nothing in the Act or the related legislative history that purports to alter the auditor's duty to his client or the purpose of his consideration of internal control. The Act creates express new duties only for companies subject to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, not for auditors.

2. Material Weaknesses in Internal Control and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

.03        Question—What course of action should be followed by the auditor of an entity subject to the internal accounting control provision of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 to comply with AS 2405 when a material weakness in internal control comes to his attention?

.04        Interpretation—The standards applied by an auditor in determining a material weakness in internal control may differ from the standards for determining a violation of the Act. Nevertheless, a specific material weakness may ultimately be determined to be a violation and, hence, an illegal act. Therefore, the auditor should inquire of the client's management and consult with the client's legal counsel as to whether the material weakness is a violation of the Act.

.05        In consultation with management and legal counsel, consideration should be given to corrective action taken or in process. If management has concluded that corrective action for a material weakness is not practicable, consideration should be given to the reasons underlying that conclusion, including management's evaluation of the costs of correction in relation to the expected benefit to be derived.1 If it is determined that there has been a violation of the Act and appropriate consideration is not given to the violation, the auditor should consider withdrawing from the current engagement or dissociating himself from any future relationship with the client (see AS 2405.22).

.06        A violation of the internal accounting control provision of the Act would not, in and of itself, have a direct effect on amounts presented in audited financial statements. However, the contingent monetary effect on an entity ultimately determined to have willfully violated the internal accounting control provision of the Act could be fines of up to $10,000 for the violation. The auditor should consider the materiality of such contingent monetary effect in relation to the audited financial statements taken as a whole. Other loss contingencies, as defined by FASB Statement No. 5 [AC section C59], ordinarily would not result from a weakness in internal control which gives rise to such a violation of the Act.

Footnotes (AI 13 - Illegal Acts by Clients: Auditing Interpretations of AS 2405):

1    The legislative history of the Act indicates that cost-benefit considerations are appropriate in determining compliance with the accounting provisions of the Act. For example, the Senate committee report stated that "the size of the business, diversity of operations, degree of centralization of financial and operating management, amount of contact by top management with day-to-day operations, and numerous other circumstances are factors which management must consider in establishing and maintaining an internal accounting control system."