Category Archives: Chapter X – CA2013

AUDIT AND AUDITORS

CHALLENGES TO BE FACED BY NEW COUNCILS


My fellow members of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) may be going to a booth for voting while reading this post. Similarly, members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) just concluded their voting last week. These two elections are crucial for the future for these two eminent professions in India, which impact most on financial and non-financial reporting, disclosures and transparency in the working of Corporate India.  Admit or not, these two institutes are facing a crucial issue of survival.

National Financial Reporting Authority – NFRA is already here to oversee accounting standards, auditing standards and quality of services provided by Chartered Accountants. The law establishing the National Financial Reporting Authority – NFRA was incorporate in the statute by Man Mohan Singh Government. Soon thereafter, Chartered Accountants communities made its hue and cry about this law.  There was news of some success for them. Soon after demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised a question on quality of services, ethics and values of Chartered Accountants in a much-hyped program organized by ICAI itself. Demonetization failure made it clear that Modi Government will enforce provisions given in the statute for the establishment of NFRA. Finally, it is enforced recently in a slight tone down version. This tone down is, unfortunately, not a face-saving for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. There is a reasonable apprehension that, irrespective of the party in power, there may be some efforts to extend the application of these provisions to other auditors like company secretaries. Soon to be elected councils of both institutes will certainly draw a plan to take on such an eventuality.

The second challenge for government and to some extent for these self-regulatory statutory institutes is to create completion in regulations and quality standards. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 created a super insolvency regulator the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India with three professional regulators competing with each other. There are suggestions to create such competing professional regulators for auditing bodies – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Cost Accountants of India and Institute of Company Secretaries of India. Will NFRA be the super audit regulator or these three professional bodies be super-regulator for their specific domain? How will they deal with the challenge? Do their members care?

Another challenge is a proposal for a council with representation from all stakeholders (appointed by Government not just elected representatives of regulated professionals). Recently, the Medical Council of India saw drastic changes. Unfortunately, all self-regulatory statutory bodies BCI, MCI, ICAI, ICAI (CMA), ICSI and others have a poor record for their professional duty to regulate their respective profession. Their image is not of statutory regulatory bodies but of a trade union. This is at sharp contrast with other statutory regulatory bodies like Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which regulates brokers, advisors and many other market professionals; Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) which regulates Actuaries, Undertakers and other insurance professionals; and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which regulators bankers and other financial advisors. The difference lies in their top management – their council or governing board. Will self-regulatory statutory bodies like ICAI and ICSI develop themselves as true professional regulators or be remain downgraded to be a trade union?

Recently, we saw these self-regulatory statutory bodies took advice from big and powerful advisory firms and companies. Some of these firms and companies have a multinational and national presence. Unfortunately, their powerhouses directly and indirectly influence councils of these self regulatory statutory bodies. This need urgent attention and introduction of organizational governance akin to corporate governance and independency norms.

Our major challenges are from inside but one growing challenge is to regulate multinational firms coming to India. India cannot stop them from coming under WTO regulation. We have one clue to govern them from IBBI regulations. We can ask foreign professional to be part of some firms which are governed under Indian regulations. I should clearly say Big – 4 should be governed by these self regulatory statutory bodies. If not, these self regulatory statutory bodies may be scrapped, sooner than later.

Is India prepared?

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National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and its Powers


Section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013 is the point of debate and hope for corporate governance. It paves way for constitution of National Financial Reporting Authority – a super-regulator for statutory auditors – Chartered Accountants. Optimists see it as predecessor of a future super-regulator for self regulatory statutory professional organizations – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India regulating chartered accountants and statutory auditors, Institute of Cost Accountants of India (earlier Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India) regulating cost and management accountants and cost auditors, and Institute of Company Secretaries of India regulating company secretaries and secretarial auditors. We earlier discussed the provision of Section 132 earlier here.

In this post, we will discuss Section 132 and the National Financial Reporting Authority Rules, 2018 as on 13th November 2018.

In an earlier post here, we discussed Duties of NFRA under Section 132 and the National Financial Reporting Authority Rules, 2018 as on 13th November 2018. In this post, we will discuss powers of NFRA to investigate and disciplinary proceeding as on 13th November 2018.

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National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and its Duties


Section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013 is the point of debate and hope for corporate governance. It paves way for constitution of National Financial Reporting Authority – a super-regulatory for statutory auditors – Chartered Accountants. Optimists see it as predecessor of a future super-regulator for self regulatory statutory professional organizations – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India regulating chartered accountants and statutory auditors, Institute of Cost Accountants of India (earlier Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India) regulating cost and management accountants and cost auditors, and Institute of Company Secretaries of India regulating company secretaries and secretarial auditors. We earlier discussed the provision of original Section 132 earlier here.

In this post, we will discuss Duties of NFRA under Section 132 and the National Financial Reporting Authority Rules, 2018 as on 13th November 2018. Powers of NFRA to investigate and disciplinary proceeding shall be discussed in next post.

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Ratification of auditor in 2018


One of the frequently asked questions these days is, should a company need to ratify the appointment of an auditor in the Annual General Meeting 2018. Should I explain my affirmative reply?

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Ratification of Auditor –Bye Bye


Effect of non – ratification of the appointment of the auditor was one of the wonders of the Companies Act, 2013. There were so many queries regarding effects of non – ratification of auditor and removal of an auditor. Now, all these long discussions came to end. The Companies Amendment Act, 2017 read with Notification S.O. 1833(E) dated 7th May 2018 deletes provision of annual ratification of the appointment of auditor.

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Criminal Liability in case of Audit Firm


Recently, after the Companies (Audit and Auditor) (2nd) Amendment Rules, 2018 some section of media reported that an audit firm shall be criminally liable under the company law for a fraudulent act of an audit partner, while few others have view that there is some new position of law regarding criminal liability of audit firms. Both of these are slightly wrong interpretations.

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Out of Sahara Blues


Finally government tries to come out of Sahara Blues. Government earlier was in pressure to put corporate governance in place among private companies and tried well. Thereafter, industry lobby (read as vested interests among “promoters” and “professionals”) started pleaded mercy for all “otherwise honest players”.

Government initiated it journey with exemption notifications and now bring this amendment rules.

The Companies (Audit and Auditors) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 is interesting in more than one way. Statistically, this exemption will benefit only selected big players among private companies in India and their auditors.

Section 139(2) of the Companies Act, 2013 reads, “No listed company or a company belonging to such class or classes of companies as may be prescribed, shall appoint or re-appoint—

(a) an individual as auditor for more than one term of five consecutive years; and

(b) an audit firm as auditor for more than two terms of five consecutive years.”

Rule 5 of the Companies (Audit and Auditors) Rules 2014 before present amendments reads, “for the purposes of sub-section (2) of section 139, the class of companies shall mean the following classes of companies excluding one person companies and small companies:-

(a) all unlisted public companies having paid up share capital of rupees ten crore or more;

(b) all private limited companies having paid up share capital of rupees twenty crore or more;

(c) all companies having paid up share capital of below threshold limit mentioned in (a) and (b) above, but having public borrowings from financial institutions, banks or public deposits of rupees fifty crores or more.”

Now, the Companies (Audit and Auditors) Second Amendment Rules, 2017, amend clause (b) of rule 5. The amendment rules reads, “in the Companies (Audit and Auditors) Rules, 2014, in rule 5, in clause (b), for the word “twenty”, the word “fifty” shall be substituted.

This amendment rules increase threshold limit for rotation of auditors for private companies by a good 150%.

As number of companies and auditors is not much, it may not affect stakeholders significantly but our commitment towards corporate governance.