Questionable payments

In some countries, business is often gained by bribing ministers or public officials or officers of companies or firms with whom one wishes to do business. Indeed bribery and corruption are a way of life in some business communities. This is the general area of questionable payments, which may include ―commissions, usually based on the amount of business placed‖. When an auditor discovers such payments, he has to consider what course of action to take. In general, the following conduct by the auditor is acceptable.

  • He should satisfy himself that the payment is as stated and that he has been told the whole story;
  • He should satisfy himself that the payments were genuinely made in furtherance of the client‘s business;
  • He has to satisfy himself that all directors of the company were aware of the payment and its purposes;
  • He has to obtain a letter of representation, signed by all the directors to confirm (c);
  • If the client is a subsidiary, then he has to ensure that the holding company and the primary auditors are aware of the payment and;
  • He has to consider whether disclosure is required. Generally disclosure is not necessary because such payments are rarely material in the context of the company accounts as a whole and usually a true and fair view is given without disclosure.
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