Interpretations of AS 4101: AI 26
Summary Table of Contents
- .10 Subsequent Events Procedures in 1933 Act Filings
- .12 Response to Subsequent Events and Subsequently Discovered Facts
.01 As in the case of financial statements used for other purposes, management has the responsibility for the financial representations contained in documents filed under the federal securities statutes. In this connection the Securities and Exchange Commission has said:
The fundamental and primary responsibility for the accuracy of information filed with the Commission and disseminated among the investors rests upon management. Management does not discharge its obligations in this respect by the employment of independent public accountants, however reputable. Accountants' certificates are required not as a substitute for management's accounting of its stewardship, but as a check upon the accounting.1
.02 When an independent accountant's report is included in registration statements, proxy statements, or periodic reports filed under the federal securities statutes, the accountant's responsibility, generally, is in substance no different from that involved in other types of reporting. However, the nature and extent of this responsibility are specified in some detail in these statutes and in the related rules and regulations. For example, section 11(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, imposes responsibility for false or misleading statements in an effective registration statement, or for omissions that render statements made in such a document misleading, on every accountant, engineer, or appraiser, or any person whose profession gives authority to a statement made by him, who has with his consent been named as having prepared or certified any part of the registration statement, or as having prepared or certified any report or valuation which is used in connection with the registration statement, report, or valuation, which purports to have been prepared or certified by him.
Note: When performing an integrated audit of financial statements and internal control over financial reporting, refer to paragraphs .C16-.C17 of Appendix C, Special Reporting Situations, ofAS 2201, An Audit of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting That Is Integrated with An Audit of Financial Statements, which provide direction when an auditor's report on internal control over financial reporting is included or incorporated by reference in filings under federal securities statutes.
.03 Section 11 also makes specific mention of the independent accountant's responsibility as an expert when his report is included in a registration statement filed under that act.2 Section 11(b) states, in part, that no person shall be liable as provided therein if that person sustains the burden of proof that
as regards any part of the registration statement purporting to be made upon his authority as an expert or purporting to be a copy of or extract from a report or valuation of himself as an expert, (i) he had, after reasonable investigation, reasonable ground to believe and did believe, at the time such part of the registration statement became effective, that the statements therein were true and that there was no omission to state a material fact required to be stated therein or necessary to make the statements therein not misleading, or (ii) such part of the registration statement did not fairly represent his statement as an expert or was not a fair copy of or extract from his report or valuation as an expert . . . .
Section 11 further provides that, in determining what constitutes reasonable investigation and reasonable ground to believe, "the standard of reasonableness shall be that required of a prudent man in the management of his own property."
.04 This discussion of the independent accountant's responsibilities in connection with filings under the federal securities statutes is not intended to offer legal interpretations and is based on an understanding of the meaning of the statutes as they relate to accounting principles and auditing standards and procedures. The discussion is subject to any judicial interpretations that may be issued.
.05 Because a registration statement under the Securities Act of 1933 speaks as of its effective date, the independent accountant whose report is included in such a registration statement has a statutory responsibility that is determined in the light of the circumstances on that date. This aspect of responsibility is peculiar to reports used for this purpose (see paragraphs .10 through .12).
.06 Under rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, an independent accountant's report based on a review of interim financial information is not a report by the accountant within the meaning of section 11. Thus, the accountant does not have a similar statutory responsibility for such reports as of the effective date of the registration statement (see paragraph .13).
.07 The other federal securities statutes, while not containing so detailed an exposition, do impose responsibility, under certain conditions, on persons making false or misleading statements with respect to any material fact in applications, reports, or other documents filed under the statute.
.08 In filings under the Securities Act of 1933, a statement frequently is made in the prospectus (sometimes included in a section of the prospectus called the experts section) that certain information is included in the registration statement in reliance upon the report of certain named experts. The independent accountant should read the relevant section of the prospectus to make sure that his name is not being used in a way that indicates that his responsibility is greater than he intends. The experts section should be so worded that there is no implication that the financial statements have been prepared by the independent accountant or that they are not the direct representations of management.
.09 The Securities and Exchange Commission requires that, when an independent accountant's report based on a review of interim financial information is presented or incorporated by reference in a registration statement, a prospectus that includes a statement about the independent accountant's involvement should clarify that his review report is not a "report" or "part" of the registration statement within the meaning of sections 7 and 11 of the Securities Act of 1933. In this respect, wording such as the following in a prospectus would ordinarily be considered a satisfactory description for the accountant's purposes of the status of his review report that was included in a Form 10-Q filing that was later incorporated by reference in a registration statement.3
Independent Public Accountants
The consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 19X2 and 19X1, and the consolidated statements of income, retained earnings, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X2, incorporated by reference in this prospectus, have been included herein in reliance on the report of __________ independent public accountants, given on the authority of that firm as experts in auditing and accounting.
With respect to the unaudited interim financial information for the periods ended March 31, 19X3 and 19X2, incorporated by reference in this prospectus, the independent public accountants have reported that they have applied limited procedures in accordance with professional standards for a review of such information. However, their separate report included in the company's quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 19X3, and incorporated by reference herein, states that they did not audit and they do not express an opinion on that interim financial information. Accordingly, the degree of reliance on their report on such information should be restricted in light of the limited nature of the review procedures applied. The accountants are not subject to the liability provisions of section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 for their report on the unaudited interim financial information because that report is not a "report" or a "part" of the registration statement prepared or certified by the accountants within the meaning of sections 7 and 11 of the act.
The independent accountant should also read other sections of the prospectus to make sure that his name is not being used in a way that indicates that his responsibility is greater than he intends.
.10 To sustain the burden of proof that he has made a "reasonable investigation" (see paragraph .03), as required under the Securities Act of 1933, an auditor should extend his procedures with respect to subsequent events from the date of his audit report up to the effective date or as close thereto as is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances. In this connection, he should arrange with his client to be kept advised of the progress of the registration proceedings so that his review of subsequent events can be completed by the effective date. The likelihood that the auditor will discover subsequent events necessarily decreases following the date of the auditor's report, and, as a practical matter, after that time the independent auditor may rely, for the most part, on inquiries of responsible officials and employees. In addition to performing the procedures outlined in paragraph .12 of AS 2801, Subsequent Events, at or near the effective date, the auditor generally should
- Read the entire prospectus and other pertinent portions of the registration statement.
- Inquire of and obtain written representations from officers and other executives responsible for financial and accounting matters (limited where appropriate to major locations) about whether any events have occurred, other than those reflected or disclosed in the registration statement, that, in the officers' or other executives' opinion, have a material effect on the audited financial statements included therein or that should be disclosed in order to keep those statements from being misleading.
.11 A registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission may contain the reports of two or more independent auditors on their audits of the financial statements for different periods. An auditor who has audited the financial statements for prior periods but has not audited the financial statements for the most recent audited period included in the registration statement has a responsibility relating to events subsequent to the date of the prior-period financial statements, and extending to the effective date, that bear materially on the prior-period financial statements on which he reported. Generally, he should
- Read pertinent portions of the prospectus and of the registration statement.
- Obtain a letter of representation from the successor independent auditor regarding whether his audit (including his procedures with respect to subsequent events) revealed any matters that, in his opinion, might have a material effect on the financial statements reported on by the predecessor auditor or would require disclosure in the notes thereto.
The auditor should make inquiries and perform other procedures that he considers necessary to satisfy himself regarding the appropriateness of any adjustment or disclosure affecting the prior-period financial statements covered by his report (see AS 3105, Departures from Unqualified Opinions and Other Reporting Circumstances).
.12 If, subsequent to the date of his report on audited financial statements, the auditor (including a predecessor auditor) (a) discovers, in performing the procedures described in paragraphs .10 and .11 above, subsequent events that require adjustment or disclosure in the financial statements or (b) becomes aware that facts may have existed at the date of his report that might have affected his report had he then been aware of those facts, he should follow the guidance in AS 2801 and AS 2905, Subsequent Discovery of Facts Existing at the Date of the Auditor's Report. If the financial statements are appropriately adjusted or the required additional disclosure is made, the auditor should follow the guidance in paragraph .05 of AS 3110, Dating of the Independent Auditor's Report, and AS 3110.07 and .08, with respect to dating his report. If the client refuses to make appropriate adjustment or disclosure in the financial statements for a subsequent event or subsequently discovered facts, the auditor should follow the procedures in AS 2905.08 and .09. In such circumstances, the auditor should also consider, probably with the advice of his legal counsel, withholding his consent to the use of his report on the audited financial statements in the registration statement.
.13 If an accountant concludes on the basis of facts known to him that unaudited financial statements or unaudited interim financial information presented or incorporated by reference in a registration statement are not in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles, he should insist on appropriate revision. Failing that,
- If the accountant has reported on a review of such interim financial information and the subsequently discovered facts are such that they would have affected his report had they been known to him at the date of his report, he should refer to AS 2905, because certain provisions of that section may be relevant to his consideration of those matters (see paragraph .46 of AS 4105, Reviews of Interim Financial Information).
- If the accountant has not reported on a review of the unaudited financial statements or interim financial information, he should modify his report on the audited financial statements to describe the departure from generally accepted accounting principles contained in the unaudited financial statements or interim financial information.
In either case, the accountant should communicate the matter to the audit committee and also consider withholding his consent to the use of his report on the audited financial statements in the registration statement.
Footnotes (AS 4101 - Responsibilities Regarding Filings Under Federal Securities Statutes):
1 4 S. E. C. 721 (1939).
2 Under rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a report based on a review of interim financial information is not a report by the accountant under section 11 (see paragraph .06).
3 A similar description of the status of the accountant's report would also ordinarily be satisfactory for the accountant's purposes when the accountant's review report is presented in the registration statement rather than incorporated by reference. In that case, the description in the prospectus would specifically refer to that report in the registration statement.