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Principles of Accounting, Volume 1: Financial Accounting

8.7 Describe Fraud in Financial Statements and Sarbanes-Oxley Act Requirements

Principles of Accounting, Volume 1: Financial Accounting8.7 Describe Fraud in Financial Statements and Sarbanes-Oxley Act Requirements
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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Role of Accounting in Society
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 1.1 Explain the Importance of Accounting and Distinguish between Financial and Managerial Accounting
    3. 1.2 Identify Users of Accounting Information and How They Apply Information
    4. 1.3 Describe Typical Accounting Activities and the Role Accountants Play in Identifying, Recording, and Reporting Financial Activities
    5. 1.4 Explain Why Accounting Is Important to Business Stakeholders
    6. 1.5 Describe the Varied Career Paths Open to Individuals with an Accounting Education
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
  3. 2 Introduction to Financial Statements
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 2.1 Describe the Income Statement, Statement of Owner’s Equity, Balance Sheet, and Statement of Cash Flows, and How They Interrelate
    3. 2.2 Define, Explain, and Provide Examples of Current and Noncurrent Assets, Current and Noncurrent Liabilities, Equity, Revenues, and Expenses
    4. 2.3 Prepare an Income Statement, Statement of Owner’s Equity, and Balance Sheet
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary
    7. Multiple Choice
    8. Questions
    9. Exercise Set A
    10. Exercise Set B
    11. Problem Set A
    12. Problem Set B
    13. Thought Provokers
  4. 3 Analyzing and Recording Transactions
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 3.1 Describe Principles, Assumptions, and Concepts of Accounting and Their Relationship to Financial Statements
    3. 3.2 Define and Describe the Expanded Accounting Equation and Its Relationship to Analyzing Transactions
    4. 3.3 Define and Describe the Initial Steps in the Accounting Cycle
    5. 3.4 Analyze Business Transactions Using the Accounting Equation and Show the Impact of Business Transactions on Financial Statements
    6. 3.5 Use Journal Entries to Record Transactions and Post to T-Accounts
    7. 3.6 Prepare a Trial Balance
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Questions
    12. Exercise Set A
    13. Exercise Set B
    14. Problem Set A
    15. Problem Set B
    16. Thought Provokers
  5. 4 The Adjustment Process
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 4.1 Explain the Concepts and Guidelines Affecting Adjusting Entries
    3. 4.2 Discuss the Adjustment Process and Illustrate Common Types of Adjusting Entries
    4. 4.3 Record and Post the Common Types of Adjusting Entries
    5. 4.4 Use the Ledger Balances to Prepare an Adjusted Trial Balance
    6. 4.5 Prepare Financial Statements Using the Adjusted Trial Balance
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  6. 5 Completing the Accounting Cycle
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 5.1 Describe and Prepare Closing Entries for a Business
    3. 5.2 Prepare a Post-Closing Trial Balance
    4. 5.3 Apply the Results from the Adjusted Trial Balance to Compute Current Ratio and Working Capital Balance, and Explain How These Measures Represent Liquidity
    5. 5.4 Appendix: Complete a Comprehensive Accounting Cycle for a Business
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Multiple Choice
    9. Questions
    10. Exercise Set A
    11. Exercise Set B
    12. Problem Set A
    13. Problem Set B
    14. Thought Provokers
  7. 6 Merchandising Transactions
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 6.1 Compare and Contrast Merchandising versus Service Activities and Transactions
    3. 6.2 Compare and Contrast Perpetual versus Periodic Inventory Systems
    4. 6.3 Analyze and Record Transactions for Merchandise Purchases Using the Perpetual Inventory System
    5. 6.4 Analyze and Record Transactions for the Sale of Merchandise Using the Perpetual Inventory System
    6. 6.5 Discuss and Record Transactions Applying the Two Commonly Used Freight-In Methods
    7. 6.6 Describe and Prepare Multi-Step and Simple Income Statements for Merchandising Companies
    8. 6.7 Appendix: Analyze and Record Transactions for Merchandise Purchases and Sales Using the Periodic Inventory System
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Questions
    13. Exercise Set A
    14. Exercise Set B
    15. Problem Set A
    16. Problem Set B
    17. Thought Provokers
  8. 7 Accounting Information Systems
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 7.1 Define and Describe the Components of an Accounting Information System
    3. 7.2 Describe and Explain the Purpose of Special Journals and Their Importance to Stakeholders
    4. 7.3 Analyze and Journalize Transactions Using Special Journals
    5. 7.4 Prepare a Subsidiary Ledger
    6. 7.5 Describe Career Paths Open to Individuals with a Joint Education in Accounting and Information Systems
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  9. 8 Fraud, Internal Controls, and Cash
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 8.1 Analyze Fraud in the Accounting Workplace
    3. 8.2 Define and Explain Internal Controls and Their Purpose within an Organization
    4. 8.3 Describe Internal Controls within an Organization
    5. 8.4 Define the Purpose and Use of a Petty Cash Fund, and Prepare Petty Cash Journal Entries
    6. 8.5 Discuss Management Responsibilities for Maintaining Internal Controls within an Organization
    7. 8.6 Define the Purpose of a Bank Reconciliation, and Prepare a Bank Reconciliation and Its Associated Journal Entries
    8. 8.7 Describe Fraud in Financial Statements and Sarbanes-Oxley Act Requirements
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Questions
    13. Exercise Set A
    14. Exercise Set B
    15. Problem Set A
    16. Problem Set B
    17. Thought Provokers
  10. 9 Accounting for Receivables
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 9.1 Explain the Revenue Recognition Principle and How It Relates to Current and Future Sales and Purchase Transactions
    3. 9.2 Account for Uncollectible Accounts Using the Balance Sheet and Income Statement Approaches
    4. 9.3 Determine the Efficiency of Receivables Management Using Financial Ratios
    5. 9.4 Discuss the Role of Accounting for Receivables in Earnings Management
    6. 9.5 Apply Revenue Recognition Principles to Long-Term Projects
    7. 9.6 Explain How Notes Receivable and Accounts Receivable Differ
    8. 9.7 Appendix: Comprehensive Example of Bad Debt Estimation
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Questions
    13. Exercise Set A
    14. Exercise Set B
    15. Problem Set A
    16. Problem Set B
    17. Thought Provokers
  11. 10 Inventory
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 10.1 Describe and Demonstrate the Basic Inventory Valuation Methods and Their Cost Flow Assumptions
    3. 10.2 Calculate the Cost of Goods Sold and Ending Inventory Using the Periodic Method
    4. 10.3 Calculate the Cost of Goods Sold and Ending Inventory Using the Perpetual Method
    5. 10.4 Explain and Demonstrate the Impact of Inventory Valuation Errors on the Income Statement and Balance Sheet
    6. 10.5 Examine the Efficiency of Inventory Management Using Financial Ratios
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  12. 11 Long-Term Assets
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 11.1 Distinguish between Tangible and Intangible Assets
    3. 11.2 Analyze and Classify Capitalized Costs versus Expenses
    4. 11.3 Explain and Apply Depreciation Methods to Allocate Capitalized Costs
    5. 11.4 Describe Accounting for Intangible Assets and Record Related Transactions
    6. 11.5 Describe Some Special Issues in Accounting for Long-Term Assets
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  13. 12 Current Liabilities
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 12.1 Identify and Describe Current Liabilities
    3. 12.2 Analyze, Journalize, and Report Current Liabilities
    4. 12.3 Define and Apply Accounting Treatment for Contingent Liabilities
    5. 12.4 Prepare Journal Entries to Record Short-Term Notes Payable
    6. 12.5 Record Transactions Incurred in Preparing Payroll
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  14. 13 Long-Term Liabilities
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 13.1 Explain the Pricing of Long-Term Liabilities
    3. 13.2 Compute Amortization of Long-Term Liabilities Using the Effective-Interest Method
    4. 13.3 Prepare Journal Entries to Reflect the Life Cycle of Bonds
    5. 13.4 Appendix: Special Topics Related to Long-Term Liabilities
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Multiple Choice
    9. Questions
    10. Exercise Set A
    11. Exercise Set B
    12. Problem Set A
    13. Problem Set B
    14. Thought Provokers
  15. 14 Corporation Accounting
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 14.1 Explain the Process of Securing Equity Financing through the Issuance of Stock
    3. 14.2 Analyze and Record Transactions for the Issuance and Repurchase of Stock
    4. 14.3 Record Transactions and the Effects on Financial Statements for Cash Dividends, Property Dividends, Stock Dividends, and Stock Splits
    5. 14.4 Compare and Contrast Owners’ Equity versus Retained Earnings
    6. 14.5 Discuss the Applicability of Earnings per Share as a Method to Measure Performance
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  16. 15 Partnership Accounting
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 15.1 Describe the Advantages and Disadvantages of Organizing as a Partnership
    3. 15.2 Describe How a Partnership Is Created, Including the Associated Journal Entries
    4. 15.3 Compute and Allocate Partners’ Share of Income and Loss
    5. 15.4 Prepare Journal Entries to Record the Admission and Withdrawal of a Partner
    6. 15.5 Discuss and Record Entries for the Dissolution of a Partnership
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  17. 16 Statement of Cash Flows
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 16.1 Explain the Purpose of the Statement of Cash Flows
    3. 16.2 Differentiate between Operating, Investing, and Financing Activities
    4. 16.3 Prepare the Statement of Cash Flows Using the Indirect Method
    5. 16.4 Prepare the Completed Statement of Cash Flows Using the Indirect Method
    6. 16.5 Use Information from the Statement of Cash Flows to Prepare Ratios to Assess Liquidity and Solvency
    7. 16.6 Appendix: Prepare a Completed Statement of Cash Flows Using the Direct Method
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Questions
    12. Exercise Set A
    13. Exercise Set B
    14. Problem Set A
    15. Problem Set B
    16. Thought Provokers
  18. Financial Statement Analysis
  19. Time Value of Money
  20. Suggested Resources
  21. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
  22. Index

Financial statements are the end result of an accountant’s work and are the responsibility of management. Proper internal controls help the accountant determine that the financial statements fairly present the financial position and performance of a company. Financial statement fraud occurs when the financial statements are used to conceal the actual financial condition of a company or to hide specific transactions that may be illegal. Financial statement fraud may take on many different methods, but it is generally called cooking the books. This issue may occur for many purposes.

A common reason to cook the books is to create a false set of a company’s books used to convince investors or lenders to provide money to the company. Investors and lenders rely on a properly prepared set of financial statements in making their decision to provide the company with money. Another reason to misstate a set of financial statements is to hide corporate looting such as excessive retirement perks of top executives, unpaid loans to top executives, improper stock options, and any other wrongful financial action. Yet another reason to misreport a company’s financial data is to drive the stock price higher. Internal controls assist the accountant in locating and identifying when management of a company wants to mislead the inventors or lenders.

The financial accountant or members of management who set out to cook the books are intentionally attempting to deceive the user of the financial statements. The actions of upper management are being concealed, and in most cases, the entire financial position of the company is being purposely misreported. Regardless of the reason for misstating the true condition of a company’s financial position, doing so misleads any person using the financial statements of a company to evaluate the company and its operations.

How Companies Cook the Books to Misrepresent Their Financial Condition

One of the most common ways companies cook the books is by manipulating revenue accounts or accounts receivables. Proper revenue recognition involves accounting for revenue when the company has met its obligation on a contract. Financial statement fraud involves early revenue recognition, or recognizing revue that does not exist, and receivable accountings, used in tandem with false revenue reporting. HealthSouth used a combination of false revenue accounts and misstated accounts receivable in a direct manipulation of the revenue accounts to commit a multibillion-dollar fraud between 1996 and 2002. Several chief financial officers and other company officials went to prison as a result.9

Concepts In Practice

Internal Controls at HealthSouth

The fraud at HealthSouth was possible because some of the internal controls were ignored. The company failed to maintain standard segregation of duties and allowed management override of internal controls. The fraud required the collusion of the entire accounting department, concealing hundreds of thousands of fraudulent transactions through the use of falsified documents and fraudulent accounting schemes that included revenue recognition irregularities (such as recognizing accounts receivables to be recorded as revenue before collection), misclassification of expenses and asset acquisitions, and fraudulent merger and acquisition accounting. The result was billions of dollars of fraud. Simply implementing and following proper internal control procedures would have stopped this massive fraud.10

Many companies may go to great lengths to perpetuate financial statement fraud. Besides the direct manipulation of revenue accounts, there are many other ways fraudulent companies manipulate their financial statements. Companies with large inventory balances can misrepresent their inventory account balances and use this misrepresentation to overstate the amount of their assets to get larger loans or use the increased balance to entice investors through claims of exaggerated revenues. The inventory accounts can also be used to overstate income. Such inventory manipulations can include the following:

  • Channel stuffing: encouraging customers to buy products under favorable terms. These terms include allowing the customer to return or even not pick up goods sold, without a corresponding reserve to account for the returns.
  • Sham sales: sales that have not occurred and for which there are no customers.
  • Bill-and-hold sales: recognition of income before the title transfers to the buyer, and holding the inventory in the seller’s warehouse.
  • Improper cutoff: recording sales of inventory in the wrong period and before the inventory is sold; this is a type of early revenue recognition.
  • Round-tripping: selling items with the promise to buy the items back, usually on credit, so there is no economic benefit.

These are just a few examples of the way an organization might manipulate inventory or sales to create false revenue.

One of the most famous financial statement frauds involved Enron, as discussed previously. Enron started as an interstate pipeline company, but then branched out into many different ventures. In addition to the internal control deficiencies discussed earlier, the financial statement fraud started when the company began to attempt to hide its losses.

The fraudulent financial reporting schemes included building assets and immediately taking as income any projected profits on construction and hiding the losses from operating assets in an off-the-balance sheet transaction called special purpose entities, which are separate, often complicated legal entities that are often used to absorb risk for a corporation. Enron moved assets that were losing money off of its books and onto the books of the Special Purpose Entity. This way, Enron could hide its bad business decisions and continue to report a profit, even though its assets were losing money. Enron’s financial statement fraud created false revenues with the misstatement of assets and liability balances. This was further supported by inadequate balance sheet footnotes and the related disclosures. For example, required disclosures were ramped up as a result of these special purpose entities.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act Compliance Today

The Enron scandal and related financial statement frauds led to investors requiring that public companies maintain better internal controls and develop stronger governance systems, while auditors perform a better job at auditing public companies. These requirements, in turn, led to the regulations developed under SOX that were intended to protect the investing public.

Since SOX was first passed, it has adapted to changing technology and now requires public companies to protect their accounting and financial data from hackers and other outside or internal forces through stronger internal controls designed to protect the data. The Journal of Accountancy supported these new requirements and reported that the results of SOX have been positive for both companies and investors.

As discussed in the Journal of Accountancy article,11 there are three conditions that are increasingly affecting compliance with SOX requirements:

  • PCAOB requirements. The PCAOB has increased the requirements for inspection reports, with a greater emphasis on deficiency evaluation.
  • Revenue recognition. The Financial Accounting Standards Board has introduced a new standard for revenue recognition. This requirement has led to the need for companies to update control documentation.
  • Cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting software, hardware, and data from digital attacks. As would be expected in today’s environment, the number of recent cybersecurity disclosures has significantly grown.

Under current guidelines, instead of the SOX requiring compliance with just the financial component of reporting and internal control, the guidelines now allow application to information technology (IT) activities as well. A major change under the SOX guidelines involves the method of storage of a company’s electronic records. While the act did not specifically require a particular storage method, it did provide guidance on which records were to be stored and for how long they should be stored.

The SOX now requires that all business records, electronic records, and electronic messages must be stored for at least five years. The penalties for noncompliance include either imprisonment or fines, or a combination of the two options.

Footnotes

  • 9 Melinda Dickinson. “Former HealthSouth Boss Found Liable for $2.9 Billion.” Reuters. June 18, 2009. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-healthsouth-scrushy/former-healthsouth-boss-found-liable-for-2-9-billion-idUSTRE55H4IP20090618
  • 10 David McCann. “Two CFOs Tell a Tale of Fraud at HealthSouth.” CFO.com. March 27, 2017. .http://ww2.cfo.com/fraud/2017/03/two-cfos-tell-tale-fraud-healthsouth/
  • 11 Ken Tysiac. “Companies Spending More Time on SOX Compliance.” Journal of Accountancy. June 12, 2017. https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2017/jun/companies-spending-more-time-on-sox-compliance-201716857.html
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