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Finance Impact Sarbanes Oxley Act On Small

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Questions:

Does The 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act Really Work To Reduce Accounting Fraud?

What Is The Reason Behind Less Accounting Fraud Recently?

How Whistleblowers Make Potential Violators Think Twice Before Planning For Fraudulent Activities?

Why Accounting Fraud Has Not Gone Away Completely Besides So Much Of Improvements, Control, Detection And Incentives?

 

Answers:

Introducation

The continuous increase in the fraudulent activities of the corporate world an Act to reduce accounting fraud was introduced so the main project statement reflects that whether it works well or not. This has been proved by collecting data from three companies such as American International Group (AIG), Enron and Waste Management

Critical Literature Review

Pompper (2014) stated that Sarbanes-Oxley Act consumed huge cost in its implementation but provides the long term benefits by detecting the accounting fraud of the business.  Further, this act has provided benefit for the business through increasing awareness of accounting department. At the same time, necessary improvements are brought in the audit committees and individual accountability so as to enhance the quality of financial reporting (Basile, Handy & Fret, 2015).

 Kim (2014) asserted that the effect of Sarbanes-Oxley Act can be seen mainly on internal control disclosure and auditing but it is relatively less effective in context of fraud activities. Yet, this helpful for the purpose of reducing overall chances of committing fraud and bring the improvement under the internal control procedure of the business. This leads to meet the expectations of stakeholders and assists management to ensure successful operation of the business for longer time span. However, still there will be possibility that management can override with the inherent limitation of inherent controls.

 


Basile, Handy & Fret (2015) explained that Sarbanes-Oxley Act aids businesses to reduce the number of re-statements; however, it is not certain that whether the existing statements are positive or negative. Currently, earnings revision is more used rather 404 restatements in order to handle the errors which in turn internal control is questionable. Furthermore, Willits & Nicholls (2014) claimed that Sarbanes-Oxley Act is suitable legislation as it makes the stakeholders feel satisfied because the financial statements are prepared free from any kind of fraud even if so then act facilitates to make that fraud public. Therefore, application of Sarbanes-Oxley Act is useful as companies can proactively prevent the fraud action. This government intervention proves to be effective to get the detail information related to financial position of the business. Furthermore, proactive companies realized the advantages of using this act whereby necessary changes can be made on time. It reflects that financial statements are evaluated and analyzed effectively by using the cited act.

Abdioglu et al., (2015) delineated that Sarbanes-Oxley Act covered three major areas such a new audit committee provisions, assessment of internal control and code of ethics for the senior management. However, overall efforts of this act are directed towards the strengthening the internal control of the business. Yet, it creates huge cost for the business and management also needs to abide by all its principle. Owing to this, it should be understood properly. Apart from this, Basile, Handy & Fret (2015) explained that companies operating at higher level of are more prone to accounting fraud and it is based on the ability of management to override the effect internal controls. They aim to increase wealth of the business and promoting their business at internal level with the increased rate of return.

Clark (2006) provided that Sarbances-Oxley has several ill impacts on the performance of foreign companies as companies with market capitalization exceeding $75 million need to abide by this regulation. However, several companies such as BP, HSBC, Sony and Toyota Motor will have to comply the as earlier it was not following this act. With this effect, approximate 17% European companies are thinking to delist themselves whereas 43% found that cited act will be beneficial. On the other hand, Asian companies and others related to Latin America also quite receptive as 81% of Latino Americans and 72% of Asian provided response that overall benefit of the act will be more than incurred cost of the business. This indicates that foreign companies are getting the advantages of the act and submitting their compliance report on the right time.

Primack (2012) stated that Sarbances-Oxley Act is one of the most significant whistleblower protection law in which employees can easily complaint regarding the unethical accounting procedure of the business. This will protect the right of employees and will not permit the business to terminate those particular employees. However, publicly traded companies are obliged to establish effective procedures for workforce to file internal whistleblower complaints. This helps in maintaining the successful operation of the business and carry out all operational activities in an effectual manner.

The research methodology consists of several tools and procedure associated with the research in order to collect meaningful information and conduct the analysis (Bryman, 2006). For this purpose, varied aspects such as research design, philosophy and approach etc are explained along with proper justification-

 

Type of investigation

The selection of type of investigation is mainly based on the type of study. There are two types of investigations; qualitative and quantitative where the former one targets to provide deep insight about the study whereas the quantitative one applies for assess the impact of one variable on another (Cho & Trent, 2006). However, the study under consideration is based on the facts and figures of the cited act to detect the accounting fraud of the organization.  Furthermore, present research is based on the qualitative type of investigation which enable researcher to understand the issue of the research in a precise manner and accordingly support it with the collection of a large amount of suitable information (O’reilly & Parker, 2013). In this manner, qualitative type of research would be effective to use and derive valid outcome from the collected information. It supports researcher in deriving the valid outcome and completing the entire investigation in an effectual manner.  Therefore, selection of qualitative method can be justified.

Research design

There are different research design used in the research field such descriptive, exploratory and explanatory. The application of descriptive research design is helpful where the researcher carries out the thematic analysis and brings out the valid outcome accordingly. On the other hand, exploratory research defines something new associated with the research issue (Dickson-Swift, James, Kippen & Liamputtong, 2007). This facilitates to meet the objectives of the study in an effectual manner. Apart from this, exploratory study is helpful where the researcher aims to identify the problem in a more precise manner. This indicates that descriptive research design is more suitable through which researcher can conduct the detail analysis from the collected information (Mason, 2006). In addition to this, descriptive research design is helpful for the research because study can be accomplished with showcasing the outcome associated with the findings.

Research philosophy

There are basically two types of research philosophies; interpretivism and positivism which influence the outcome of the investigation to a great extent. The positivism research philosophy is applied where research is restricted to use own knowledge and factual information is necessary to be collected to derive the outcome (Liamputtong, 2013). On the other hand, interpretivism research philosophy proves to be effective as research get right to incorporate own knowledge in analyzing the collected information. Also, this kind of research is more suitable where the data are collected from the socially constructed environment. Furthermore, interpretivsm research philosophy is generally used the qualitative type of investigation whereas positivism is more favorable for the quantitative type of the investigation (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). It shows that researcher can use interpretivism philosophy to conduct the present investigation and present the valid outcome in the right manner.  Therefore, selection of interpretivism research philosophy can be justified and it has been selected for the current research.

Research approach

There are two kinds of research approaches such as deductive and inductive. There deductive research starts with specific information and accordingly theory is developed. However, inductive research starts with the general overview of the information through which researcher can reach to the specific outcome (Creswell & Clark, 2007). Since, the current study is based on Sarbanes-Oxley Act which is applied to detect the fraud in the accounting system so deductive research approach has been used. This is because scholar already has information regarding the same and accordingly its influence has been assessed from varied sources of secondary study. It facilitates to derive valid outcome and accomplish the purpose of investigation in an effectual manner (Smith, 2015). Therefore, inductive approach cannot be selected and the selection of deductive research philosophy can be justified.

Data collection

There are two types of data primary and secondary which are collected in accordance with the requirement of the study. The primary data are collected first time as per the aim of the study whereas secondary data requires keen attention of the research as the information is derived from the available sources only (Smith, 2007). The methods used for the collection of primary data are; interview, questionnaire, survey whereas journals, online articles and books are referred in order to gather secondary information. Since the current study is based on the qualitative approach that needs in-depth analysis so use of secondary information is more favorable. Owing to this, secondary data have been collected for fulfilling the purpose of the study (Silverman, 2016). It would be effective to meet the requirement of the research and accomplish the purpose in an effectual manner. The rationale behind not using the primary data is time and budget constraints. Also, it would be less favourable to find the appropriate outcome by using primary data. Therefore, selection of secondary can be justified.

The below-mentioned table (refer appendix Table: Financial data of Waste Management) provides the information related to the profitability of Waste management. It is the USA based company and formed through the acquisition of Chicago based Waste Management Inc. It deals with collecting, transferring, recycling waste and offering the resources recovery as per the requirement of the customers (Waste Management, 2017). The performance of the business was good in the entire industry but its performance got affected in a negative manner when the account fraud scandal was detected in the late 1990s.  It was the result of misrepresentation of financial statement because of the personal greed of high authorities of the company. At this juncture, significant manipulation was done related to the fixed assets for showing the fast growth of the business so that earnings can be increased. This entire situation was supported by the internal committee or management of the organization along with audit team. The scandal was discovered with the investigation of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which was settled in the financial year 2005 August (Waste Management, 2013). These investigation causes re-statement of financial statements and accordingly significant changes were found. For example, the net loss of the Waste Management in the Financial Year 1996 was 39 dollar millions but fraudulently it was shown as 192 million dollar profit (Annual report 1992, 1993).

The following table (refer appendix table financial data of Enron) is indicating details related to the Houston Natural Gas company which merged with the InterNorth and formed Enron Corporation (Enron Annual Report 2000, 2017). It was the largest natural gas merchant in the North America and later it was known for one of biggest accounting fraud scandals in that time. The misrepresentation of the income statement was showing by showing the income from some assets which were actually not generating the revenue.

The following table (refer appendix table Financial position of American International Group) is showing the income generated by American International Group (AIG). The company deals with insurance coverage of companies and individual. The SEC discovered accounting fraud scandal of the company in the financial year 2002 (American International Group, 2017). It has been found that management conducted such kind of activities in order to get the desired results from the financial statement. In this regard, false loss worth 500 million dollar was shown in the balance sheet was the company and 200 dollar million losses were underwritten.

Data analysis

Data analysis is the crucial part of the research methodology which helps in conducting the detail analysis of the collected information (O’reilly & Parker, 2013). There are two types of techniques used for the data analysis such as qualitative and quantitative. The quantitative technique applies the statistical methods such as regression, correlation and annova to assess the impact of one variable on other. On the other hand, qualitative method simply carries out the in-depth analysis on the basis of collected information. This shows that qualitative method is more suitable in the current study where the research aims to find out whether the implementation of Sarbances-Oley Act had actually worked to reduce the accounting fraud or not. In this regard, thematic analysis has been conducted in which themes are prepared in accordance with the literature review chapter or secondary data. In addition to this, each theme support the research aim and objectives so as to accomplish the same in the right manner (Miles, Huberman & Saldana, 2013). The rationale behind not using the quantitative technique is that two variables are not available in the present study so the selection of qualitative technique would be appropriate. Therefore, selection of thematic analysis can be justified.

Findings, Analysis And Discussion

Findings and analysis: According to the information gathered from the literature review as a part of secondary source, it is found that Sarbanes-Oxley Act is not directly linked to fraud prevention activities. According to Kim (2014),) the cited act focused mainly on bringing improvement within the Audit Committees, auditing as well as internal control disclosures. The immediate impact of this act usually lies in improvisation rather it cost huge when it comes to bring improvement in fraud prevention activities. From the research undertaken, it is assessed that this Act specifies the proactive action that is towards meeting the prevention action against fraud. However, on the other way round, it is also found that this law moves around the comprehensive certifications that are about meeting the compliances and norms. For the accounting firms such as Enron, Sarbanes-Oxley Act directly in respect to accounting injudiciousness but the extent of fraud is also measured as an indirect notion.

Findings and analysis: From the secondary research which is undertaken, the findings have been worked out to evaluate the success of Sarbanes-Oxley Act in meeting the expectations of stakeholders. The study helped to examine that the initiation of this Act was accepted by everyone in consideration to public as major stakeholder. However, there were opponents who had share arguments. According to them, the connection of this Act in prevention of fraud actions adds cost to the firm. Along with the same, it is analyzed to bring huge cost on ground of divergence from the primary goals of the business that are pertaining to competition, profitability and innovation.

Secondly, auditors as another stakeholder support keen interest in investigating the risk and control measures. They along with other stakeholders such as Board of Directors always intend to keep areas of controls and ascendancy where involvement of proactive modes for improvements in the fraud process in their working. Therefore, Sarbanes-Oxley Act proves fruitful in meeting the expectation to the great extends.

Findings and analysis: According to the viewpoint shared by Willits & Nicholls and Garner, McKee & McKee, the research study was undertaken to examine the requirement of the comprehensive certification of the events by Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Through the evidences noticed by big fraud related activities, the mentioned law came into big picture and therefore shaping for better future undertaking. Later, the research studies the less involvement of public in participating and taking pro activeness in showing interest. Furthermore, it is viewed that this Act amends to evaluate company in adding comprehensive certification of the events.

The results procured found that companies commenced measuring their work output after compliance of this Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The major advantage adds to the internal auditing system to the firm where process towards standardization is put into requirement. It is found that Sarbanes-Oxley Act was also less implemented due to the use of anti-fraud measures and activities which are executed as a part of business working operations of the firm.

Findings and analysis: This theme is worked out by putting the ideas of Abdioglu and McKee & Garner. From the literature review, it has been analyzed that Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a direct reaction to the accounting indiscretion as well as fraud. Furthermore, for the accounting firms, there are used and applied various accounting treatments to carry out the financing and accounting activities. It is analyzed and thus found that cheating and fraud pertaining activities are very common to firms thereby leads to unhealthy results and outputs. However, companies are evidenced with using anti fraud actions and prevention measures. But, they are usually assessed as the direct reaction to the accounting indiscretion as well as fraud. Due to prevailing lack of control over the internal audit techniques and measures, the firm usually becomes unable to detect the in depth causes and ways to prevent frauds. However, it is analyzed that through the assistance of Sarbanes-Oxley Act, it becomes easy and effective to deal with the fraud kind of activities.

 

Sarbanes-Oxley Act confronts with the issues conflicting interests with the external auditors and off-balance sheet entities

Findings and analysis: According to the information gathered from the literature review as a part of secondary source, it is found that Sarbanes-Oxley Act confronts with the issues conflicting interests with the external auditors and off-balance sheet entities. On having deep study and research of different accounting firms, it is found that there are firms who have weak control over their accounting functions due to various loopholes. The resultant of which tends to affect the overall working of the entity in many ways. This affect the performance and thereby tends to reflect conflict in the interest of the auditors who came from outside. Due to negligence in the system working and norms, the cause of Act affects the overall organizational performance in many ways. It leads to bring variation in the working, operations and ideology of how internal auditors work against the internal ones. Therefore, it is found through the research that through the existence and implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the exigency of fulfilling the issues incompatible to interest is met effectively and efficiently.

The implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act ensures the better performance of the business

Findings and analysis: According to the viewpoint shared by Willits & Nicholls and Garner, McKee & McKee, the research study was undertaken to examine the implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act in ensuring the better performance of the business. The involvement of Sarbanes-Oxley Act proves more effective when it is undertaken and adopted as a part of invention program by the government.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act increases audit fee 

With the review of below mentioned graph, it has been found that audit fees in increasing for all the companies year by year. The diagram is derived by applying the 95% confidence interval of the regression coefficient for market capitalization interaction in accordance with the each year relative to the financial year 2000. However, the fee paid by the smaller companies was relatively less than larger companies. It reflects that Sarbanes-Oxley Act has influence over the both small and large companies, yet the impact was great on the small one. Furthermore, collection of secondary data reveals that companies get huge benefit which exceed its cost and determine its successful operation in the marketplace. In this manner, appropriate strategies can be applied to deliver the good quality of services. It indicates that all business activities should be integrated effectively and standards associated with the act must be complied by the business.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act affected business performance

The below mentioned tables are showing that how companies misrepresent their financial statements for the purpose of getting the personal benefit. In this regard, first two tables related to Enron and Waste Management indicates that false situation was presented. The average net income reported fraudulently was 1072 and the re-stated average income was 835.6. Furthermore, standard deviation for the fraud reported income was 961.45 whereas re-stated net income’s standard deviation was 766.78. This reflects that re-stated income and fraud reported income has huge difference and accordingly firms were able to manipulate their financial position by taking advantage of wrong accounting practices.

Analysis of Enron

Statistical tests

Net income or loss fraudulently reported

Net income or loss restated

Mean

1072

835.6

Standard Error

429.9769761

342.9156748

Median

893

643

Mode

#N/A

#N/A

Standard Deviation

961.4577474

766.7827593

Sample Variance

924401

587955.8

Kurtosis

3.087680461

2.630655866

Skewness

1.498665075

1.277593659

Range

2575

2080

Minimum

105

9

Maximum

2680

2089

Sum

5360

4178

Count

5

5

Confidence Level(95.0%)

1193.807471

952.0865467

 Analysis of Waste management

 

Net income (loss) Fraudulent reported

Net income (loss) restated

Mean

823.7142857

570.571

Standard Error

204.0703327

142.951

Median

784

628

Mode

#N/A

#N/A

Standard Deviation

539.9193502

378.212

Sample Variance

291512.9048

143044

Kurtosis

2.641485795

-0.2423

Skewness

1.329572526

0.22269

Range

1696

1137

Minimum

192

39

Maximum

1888

1176

Sum

5766

3994

Count

7

7

Confidence Level(95.0%)

499.3421155

349.787

According to the above table, average income as per the fraud reported period was 823.71 but it the restated shown the average income worth 570.57. On the other hand, standard deviation of the income incurred or reported with the fraudulent practices was 540 and 380 in case of re-stated income. This reflects that companies are more able to show higher profitability by manipulating their accounting transaction. It affects their profitability and they tend to raise their income by using the falsified strategies. For this purpose, it is important to take the corrective action for the businesses which are doing such kind of practices. However, it can be analyzed the two of these companies were able to commit such kind of practices with the support of audit commit.

Analysis of AIG after SOX

 Statistical tests

Net income (Loss) fraudulently reported

Net income (loss) restated

Mean

1072

835.6

Standard Error

429.977

342.9156748

Median

893

643

Mode

#N/A

#N/A

Standard Deviation

961.458

766.7827593

Sample Variance

924401

587955.8

Kurtosis

3.08768

2.630655866

Skewness

1.49867

1.277593659

Range

2575

2080

Minimum

105

9

Maximum

2680

2089

Sum

5360

4178

Count

5

5

Confidence Level(95.0%)

1193.81

952.0865467

The above table is showing that data analysis of the income generated from the AIG after the introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Here, the average income reported through the fraudulent practices was 1072 whereas 875 in case of re-stated profit. It reflects that changes occurred in the both of the practices were relatively less due to the impact of the act. Furthermore, standard deviation for the re-stated income was 342 and 429 was there in the case of income recorded in the fraudulent practices.

It has been found that loss or mis-representation proportion of AIG was relatively less than Enron and Waste Management because strict policies were imposed related to the audit and other related practices for suspection of the fraud. Also, the introduction of whistleblower practices provided support for workforce to file the complaint against such kind of companies. However, fraud subsection and re-stated create threat for the businesses to do not think of such kind of activities. Also, AIG was able to recover its position but Enron went bankrupt due to worst situation and huge level of manipulation in the accounting standard. However,

Whist blower making providing the protection to employees and reducing the number of cases

The below-mentioned diagram is showing that several whistleblower complaints are addressed by the companies or respective authorities. This helps in reducing the chance of fraudulent activities and provides the protection for all related stakeholders. Furthermore, it can be analysed that employees are getting better protection for their right and they can easily file the comaplaint against the companies where they work. However, some of them still afraid of filing the complaint so they just withdraw it.

Discussion

According to the analysis chapter, it is derived that anti-fraud process of the business are managed by using strong internal audit. This audit will resolve the internal issues of the business whereby they can effectively protect the business from any kind of upcoming fraud. Furthermore, external audit is conducted to assess the influence of internal control and resolve the potential issues associated with the accounting procedure of the business. Furthermore, proactive fraud prevention of the business enables company to maintain the good performance in the marketplace and provide the chances to resolve the internal issues in the right direction. They further explained that Sarbanes-Oxley Act laid out the extensive requirement for the internal requirements (McKee & McKee, 2014). Similarly, standards associated with the auditing provide reasonable assurance in different fields such as efficiency, competence of operation and observance in the line of set regulations and law. Furthermore, the analysis chapter reveals that Sarbanes-Oxley Act works well and provides protection for employees to file against any kind of unethical activities and support them in completing their work in effectual manner. Furthermore, the whistleblower kind of activities are more effective in which employees get full protection in raising their queries or related to the suspected fraud.

 

Conclusion

The first research question “Does the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act really work to reduce accounting fraud?” has been concluded that 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act really work to reduce the accounting fraud as it tights the internal control procedure and support other stakeholders to get all informational related to accounting. It proves to be effective in deriving the valid outcome and maintaining the good financial position of the business in the national or internal marketplace. Furthermore, disclosure of fraud in case of AIG, Enron and Waste Management created fear among other foreign companies also. In addition to this, SOX provided more power for SEC so they can extend their team by increasing the wage of employee hired and accordingly their motivation work better the detect the fraud in the companies especially in case of large companies. Moreover, the scandal of AIG was not bigger as of Enron and Waste Management so it can clear that SOX works well in detecting the fraud to a great extent.

The second research question “What is the reason behind less accounting fraud recently?” has been achieved as it was found that government intervention and necessity to conduct internal or internal audit reduces the accounting fraud recently. Also, several fraud activities were made public which created fear among other corporations and they are trying to keep their financial statements update in accordance with the standard requirement. Moreover, the analysis part makes it clear that support from audit team and personal greed affect the corporation and they are bound to conduct such kind of fraudulent activities. However, even with the result of Waste Management, Enron conducted such kind of scam just with the support of employees, management and audit team.

The third objective of research “How whistleblowers make potential violators think twice before planning for fraudulent activities?” has been addressed because of focus on strengthening the internal controls of the business. This is because employees and management are provided training to stay away from such kind of fraudulent activities and extremely painful compensation influence companies to think twice before planning such kind of activities. In addition to this, analysis part reflects that several complaints are raised at the part of employees with the support of the cited act. These different complaints are resolved by the respective authorities and legal actions are taken against the responsible people. In addition to this, SOX provided strength to employees to raise their voice and make it strict for audit team to report for the fraudulent accounting practices. This is because analysis part indicates that audit team in case of Enron and Waste Management already suffered from several kinds of charges.

The last objective of the research “Why accounting fraud has not gone away completely besides so much of improvements, control, detection and incentives?” has been addressed with the analysis chapter and collection of secondary data. It has been found that inherent limitations influence the management to override the inherent control system and accordingly they get chance to commit the fraud. For this purpose, external audit should be conducted effectively so as to maintain the good performance of the business and meet the expectations of all related stakeholders. Moreover, casual approach of some organizations promotes such kind unethical activities, yet changing regulation and law are bringing changes in their working pattern too. The results of AIG make it clear that fraud has not gone ways completely due to personal greed, mutual benefit of employees and management. Also, the absence of suitable regulatory facilitates makes it typical for businesses to conduct the ethical practices.

Limitations

The present research is limited towards the time and budget where the time was the major constraint otherwise researcher could have collected primary information. Also, some of the secondary sources were restricted to use so the issue was faced in accessing wide range of information. However, researcher accessed several sites or sources for the collection of information. Moreover, the entire research was based on the secondary data only so it might be possible that aim of the study is not accomplish in the right manner. Yet, extensive efforts are put to bring out valid outcome and determine the successful completion of related research activities.

Recommendations

The recommendations related to protecting the firm from the fraud are explained as follows-

  • Internal audit should be conducted on right time with the associated with skilled and competent personnel
  • Employees should be provided training to keep the accounting statements updated in accordance with the specified rules and regulation.
  • New procedures and policies related to accounting should be clear communicated to the staff so they can abide by the same
  • Strict penalty should be imposed on the accounting staff who commits the fraudulent activities for the purpose of personal wealth.
  • External audit should be free from any kind of bias and known people should not be engaged with that particular committee which will help in providing the right information and conducting the overall analysis in an effectual manner
 

References

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My Assignment Help. Finance Impact Sarbanes Oxley Act On Small [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2018 [cited 04 July 2020]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/finance-impact-sarbanes-oxley-act-on-small.


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