Keeping Everyone Honest: Financial Statement Fraud Schemes and IFRS

GUEST BLOGGER

Misty Carter, CFE
ACFE Research Specialist

The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are becoming familiar to many in the accounting and auditing world, especially those who perform work internationally. For those who are not familiar with the term, IFRS are a set of accounting standards developed to drive consistency in how publicly traded companies prepare financial statements. In other words, its purpose is to ensure that companies that transact business internationally are on the same page when reporting financials. I like to refer to it as a way of “keeping everyone honest.” Personally, I think that the idea of having one global standard for how companies prepare and report their financial statements is a good one. In fact, approximately 120 nations either permit or require IFRS. The European Union (EU) has fully conformed to IFRS and requires companies whose securities are listed on the EU-regulated stock exchange to prepare their financial statements in accordance with IFRS.

If someone were to ask my opinion on the biggest impacts the IFRS have on financial statements, I would have to say it would be related to how a company recognizes its revenue and values its assets. Why? Because these are the two areas in which fraudsters most commonly manipulate or falsify financials. When it comes to committing financial statement fraud schemes, falsifying revenue and overstating or even understating assets is a common theme — a theme that is not limited to any one specific accounting standard used in any particular country. I believe that it is vital for all companies, regardless of where they operate, to be aware of financial statement fraud schemes so they can be proactive in detecting red flags and identifying ways to prevent these schemes.

For those of you interested in learning more about IFRS and common financial statement fraud schemes, I encourage you to check out the new online self-study course, International Financial Reporting Standards for Financial Statement Fraud. This course provides an overview of IFRS with an emphasis on revenue recognition and the fair value of assets. It also covers the basics of financial statement fraud schemes, including red flags and methods to detect these schemes.

With so many companies operating globally, it is vital that everyone be aware of new and emerging changes in the financial world. One way to stay abreast of these changes is by becoming familiar with IFRS and its impact on financial statements. It is also essential that all companies take the necessary steps to prevent and detect financial statement fraud schemes.

Spread the Word: Fraud Week is Nov. 16-22

GUEST BLOGGER

Scott Patterson, CFE
ACFE Senior Media Relations Specialist

Fraud is a problem facing companies of all sizes and employees in all departments. But in contrast to days past when companies only reacted to fraud after the fact, organizations are now being more proactive in addressing risk and compliance issues head-on. Organizations like USAA, Lowe’s, Wyndham Resorts, the U.S. Department of Labor, Barclays, IBM and more have signed up to support the upcoming International Fraud Awareness Week, November 16-22. They have stepped forward at a time when entities lose an estimated 5 percent of their revenues to fraud (according the ACFE’s 2014 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse). Known as “Fraud Week,” this important movement has come a long way since its humble beginning back in 2000. In fact, there are now more than 1,000 organizations registered as Official Supporters, including large corporations, small businesses, government agencies, boutique accounting firms, nonprofit organizations and ACFE chapters worldwide.

One of the best things about Fraud Week is that it presents a unique opportunity to share free anti-fraud resources and best practices with organizations that want to raise awareness among their employees, clients and even the general public.

Available in the resources section of FraudWeek.com, our new “Cost of Complacency” infographic helps anyone visualize the heightened impact of fraud when it is not detected early and through proactive measures. The infographic makes a great feature for company websites, employee newsletters and to send to the media with a personalized message from an Official Supporter of Fraud Week.

Also new this year is a printable handout, “5 Fraud Tips Every Business Leader Should Act On,” perfect for sharing with colleagues and clients or handing out at presentations. The one-pager encourages common-sense measures such as establishing formal hiring procedures and implementing a fraud hotline.

We have also updated the downloadable Fraud Week logo and customizable press release to help you publicize your proactive stance against fraud. These items and more are available in the Featured Resources section on FraudWeek.com.

During (and around) the week of November 16-22, Official Supporters will host fraud awareness trainings for employees, conduct employee surveys to assess levels of fraud preparedness, post articles on company websites, newsletters and social media, and team with local news sources to promote fraud prevention and detection.

It’s only a few weeks away. What do you have planned for Fraud Week?

A Look Inside: ACFE Asia-Pacific Conference offers speakers with stories you could only imagine

AUTHOR’S POST

Mandy Moody, CFE
ACFE Social Media Specialist

I am not going to lie; I often like to think of my life as a long, dramatic Hollywood movie (key word: think). At times, it feels like a drama (thanks to my two-year old). Other times it feels like a comedy (I am known to tell a few jokes at the expense of my friends and family). And, on the rare occasion, it feels like an incredible tragedy (a missed promotion, the loss of a friend, the realization that I cannot be “Mom of the Year” all of the time). But, for me these genres are just examples of the way my life feels; not how it is. For Michael Woodford, former Olympus CEO and whistleblower, his life over the past five years actually is like (and will soon be) a blockbuster movie. His story of exposing a $1.7 billion fraud with rumored connections to the Japanese mafia sounds like a Hollywood thriller, a thriller he will share during his keynote address at the upcoming 2014 ACFE Asia-Pacific Fraud Conference in Hong Kong, November 16-18. Hear a clip below from Woodford speaking at the ACFE Global Fraud Conference in 2012.

Woodford, however, will not be the only speaker giving an inside look at his life. Below is the full list of speakers telling their stories:

  • Michael Woodford, Olympus Whistleblower, UK
    After 30 years with Olympus, Woodford confronted its Board of Directors on multiple occasions asking for answers to financial discrepancies and even delivered a commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers investigation report. He was abruptly fired Oct. 14, 2011, by the company’s executive board because of what the board cited as a “management culture clash.” Just one month later, Olympus officials publicly admitted to the U.S. FBI and UK Serious Fraud Office to having paid fraudulent advisory fees in a decade-long cover up valuing $1.7 billion. 
  • Albert Hui, CISA, CISM GCFA, GCFE, Principal Consultant, Security Ronin, Hong Kong
    Having spent years breaking and protecting information technology systems for investment banks and government and national critical infrastructures, Hui is an expert on high-sensitivity mission-critical systems security.
  • David Barboza, Correspondent, The New York Times, China
    In 2013, Barboza was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting “for his striking exposure of corruption at high levels of the Chinese government, including billions in secret wealth owned by relatives of the prime minister, well documented work published in the face of heavy pressure from the Chinese officials.”
  • Paul Chung, Deputy Head of the Financial Investigations Division of Narcotics Bureau, Hong Kong Police, Hong Kong
    Chung is an AML expert with more than 15 years of experience on financial investigation and financial intelligence handling. He also has experience in handling complex fraud investigation, including boiler room fraud, franchise fraud, LC fraud, instalment fraud and insurance fraud.
  • D. Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA, CVA, Vice President and Program Director, ACFE
    Dorris is the Vice President and Program Director for the ACFE. As an Assistant District Attorney for the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office in Shreveport, La., Dorris created and was the Director of its Financial Crimes Screening Section. He has testified numerous times before legislative committees and was a frequent lecturer with prosecutor and accountant training associations.

You can find more information about the 2014 ACFE Asia-Pacific Fraud Conference at ACFE.com/AsiaPac. Early registration ends tomorrow!