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The Downfall of ABC Learning Centre

Question:

Discuss About The Master Of Professional Financial Accounting?

Ethical issues affect everyone who is related to the business in some way or the other. It is important that the officials who are working for the company takes important steps to make sure that they are morally correct and that their actions are not affecting the overall materiality of the company. There have been several such incidences that have affected the company on ethical ground, and have even led to the downfall of the same. It is thus important that the actions should be ethically corrected. Moral dilemma often leads to a large number of issues and before taking any steps, it must be considered that there are several people who are dependent on the financial reports of the company (Lefkowitz, 2017). Not only the management but other people like the auditors must be very clear about their actions and they should maintain that all the steps that they take helps the investors in providing a true and fair view of the business. In the recent years, one of the most prominent cases was of the downfall of the ABC learning centre that showed how unethical decisions could harm the company and the people who are related to the company. In addition, why it is important to take important decisions, considering the investors who are dependent on the company and its management (DeZoort & Harrison, 2016).

ABC learning centre was one of the biggest companies in the educational centre in Australia. The company had hundred of learning centres that provide proper education to a large number of children in Australia. The company went into liquidation after a successful for two decades and there were several reasons that led to the same (Burke & Clark, 2016).

The backdrop behind all this is the major acquisition and child care support which the company started to give in the early 2000’s and the major increase In the number of centres as compared to its major competitors who had barely 100 centres across the world. Will all these acquisitions, they not only capitalized and improved the markets share in the UK but also captured 1% of the markets in the US as well. It grew raiding and aggressively negotiating to deal with Australia’s largest employers like Department of Defence. It was highly profitable in 2004 -05 and 2005-06 giving the net profits percentage of 17% and 18% respectively on the sales revenue of $292.7 Million and $219.8 Million. In all this process, it kept on increasing its debt triggering a decline in the share prices by 42% in 2007. To meet all these debt obligations, the owner and his wife had to sell all its shares, and thus going on in voluntary liquidation by selling of its US subsidiary in 2008 (Knechel & Salterio, 2016). Despite all this, it fell into receivership because of increase in the debt servicing obligations due to which the auditor could not sign the financial statements. Even though the then federal government injected funds in the company, but it was still delisted from S&P and Australian Stock exchange on account of creditors voluntary winding up in this case (Brannen, 2016).

Ethical Issues Involved


The major ethical issues that were involved in the overall scenario were the stand of the management and the auditors. They falsified the reports to book profits that they earn from loss making units and showed the same in their financial reports. As an auditor, it is important that the auditor maintain proper scepticism in their approach. They should given an honest opinion on the financials of the company and make sure that the true and fair view of the company is stated in his reports. However, in the given case the auditors Pitcher plan, work as per the discretion of the management and gave an opinion that was influenced by the decisions of the management. It showed that the company was very profitable and the books of accounting were free from all kind of issues and were error free. However when the new auditors ENY looked into the financial statements after taking over from the previous auditor, they saw that the stand of the previous auditor was entirely different from their view. The company was incurring losses and no disclosure in respect of the same was given. The auditor asked the management to do the necessary changes and update its accounts. However, the management of the company refused to follow the same. This led to a lot of probe in the matter and the auditor found that the management of the company had very less internal control measures that had led to the same. It was important that the management should have disclosed all the relevant facts that were affecting the materiality of the company (Jones, 2017).


The previous auditor was static on its stand that the company was performing well and that the only job of the auditor is to comment on the matters that it found to be erroneous and not go into the matter. In cases where he finds that, there are certain issues involved, in that case the auditor needs to comment on the validity of the accounts and look into the matter. The new auditor Ernst and young was also static on its views that the company had falsified its accounts. This led to many issues, a third firm was appointed to look into the matter and comment on the stand of the auditors. However, the new firm could not take any stand and was not able to prove any opinion wrong. This affected the overall image of the company and when it was further inquired, it led to the liquidation of the company. The main point here is that the auditor faced ethical dilemma when the management of the company to provide reports as per their recommendations interrupted them. It is important that auditor must not let such issues affect him in any way and take necessary steps that are free from any moral dilemma (Raiborn, Butler, & Martin, 2016). As an auditor, the work is to give unbiased opinions on the financial reports of the company. This duty should supersede all the other duties that the management wants the company to perform. The audit report should be true and in cases where the auditor is found guilty than he will be penalized for the same (Sonu, Ahn, & Choi, 2017). Thus, we see how the issue of ethical dilemma led to one of the biggest accounting and financial company that was eventually liquidated. Thus, the management of the company must take important steps to avoid the same. Liquidation affects the investors who are dependent on the company. If the company liquidates, large numbers of people are affected. It is thus important that necessary steps must be taken to avoid the same; this will help the investors and the other parties who are dependent on the company (Sonu, Ahn, & Choi, 2017).

Role of the Auditor

Conclusion

Through the above analysis, we saw how a company can be affected and how important it is for a professional to maintain its stand on the ethical grounds. That will only suffice the important criteria of true and fair view of marinating the financial statements making sure that they are free from all kind of errors. The overall scale of profitability of the liquidated company was much more than its peers; this raised a question on the validation of the accounts. There were many assumptions that the company had done that showed that the books were not maintained ethically. This liquidation affected a large number of parties. Thus before companies take such steps they must think about the various stakeholders. The one lesson that can be learnt from the downfall of the company is that we should try to maintain ethical practices as much as possible and should never go for falsification of the records. If the company in any way frauds, it is the responsibility of the auditor to look into the matter and comment on the same (Guragai, Hunt, Neri, & Taylor, 2017). The audit opinion must be unbiased and should not be influenced by the company or its peers. In the given case, the previous auditor pitcher plant worked as per the suggestions of the management and that had affected the overall audit report which was proved to be tampered and showed a wrong impression about the company accounts. It is thus important that important policies and procedures must be undertaken; no external pressure must be there. In addition, all the issues that are faced and all that might affect the overall profitability of the company must be stated and disclosed in the financial statements of the company (Abbott, Daugherty, Parker, & Peters, 2016).

References

Abbott, L., Daugherty, B., Parker, S., & Peters, G. (2016). INTERNAL AUDIT QUALITY AND FINANCIAL REPORTING QUALITY: THE JOINT IMPORTANCE OF INDEPENDENCE AND COMPETENCE. Journal of Accounting Research , 54 (1), 3-40.

Brannen, J. (2016). Mixing Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Research. NY: Ashgate Publishing.

Burke, J., & Clark, C. (2016). The business case for integrated reporting: Insights from leading practitioners, regulators, and academics. Business Horizons , 59 (3), 273-283.

DeZoort, F., & Harrison, P. (2016). Understanding Auditors sense of Responsibility for detecting fraud within organization. Journal of Business Ethics , 1-18.

Guragai, B., Hunt, N., Neri, M., & Taylor, E. (2017). Accounting Information Systems and Ethics Research: Review, Synthesis, and the Future. Journal of Information Systems: Summer 2017 , 31 (2), 65-81.

Jones, P. (2017). Statistical Sampling and Risk Analysis in Auditing. NY: Routledge.

Knechel, W., & Salterio, S. (2016). Auditing:Assurance and Risk (fourth ed.). New York: Routledge.

Lefkowitz, J. (2017). Ethics and Values in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Second Edition (second ed.). NY: Routledge.

Raiborn, C., Butler, J., & Martin, K. (2016). The internal audit function: A prerequisite for Good Governance. Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance , 28 (2), 10-21.

Sonu, C., Ahn, H., & Choi, A. (2017). Audit fee pressure and audit risk: evidence from the financial crisis of 2008. Asia-Pacific Journal of Accounting & Economics , 24 (1-2), 127-144.

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