In another case of alleged rigging of audit inspections, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has banned two former chief executives at Deloitte’s Turkey practice for their roles in a plan to alter documents ahead of a 2014 inspection of three audit engagements.
The accounting watchdog said the former senior partners — Hüseyin Gürer and Gökhan Alpman — were aware of the plan to alter archived working papers but raised no objections to it. Alpman was the lead partner on two of the three engagements while Gürer was ultimately responsible for Deloitte’s system of quality control.
The PCAOB announced Thursday it had fined Gürer $25,000 and banned him and Alpman from associating with a board-registered accounting firm. It also banned a third senior partner, Ömer Tanriöver, for failing to cooperate with its investigation.
The board’s decision follows the announcement in January that four former KPMG executives and two former PCAOB employees had been charged with fraud for trying to rig audit inspections.
“Sadly, this is not the first instance even this year of partners at a ‘big four’ accounting firm trying to manipulate their inspection outcomes,” Karthik Ramanna, a professor of business and public policy at Oxford University, told The Financial Times. “The case exemplifies the deep ethical rot in auditing today.”
After the PCAOB in August 2014 notified Deloitte Turkey of the inspection — which was the firm’s first — Alpman allegedly participated in discussions where a partner senior to him approved a plan to alter previously archived work papers.
He did not object to the plan even though as an experienced auditor and the firm’s audit leader, he knew that any such alterations would be improper, the PCAOB said in an an administrative order.
Prem Sikka, professor of accounting at the University of Sheffield, questioned whether the PCAOB had gone far enough given the seriousness of the wrongdoing exposed at the highest level of one of Deloitte’s international practices.
““The big firms and their partners … seem to be quite willing to bend the rules for private gains. The puny fine of $25,000 will hardly worry anyone,” he told the FT.