An Audit Quality Inspection Scandal: Ethical Lapses in a Misguided Attempt to Alleviate Regulatory Scrutiny
Issues in Accounting Education,
In 2017, KPMG discovered that several high-ranking partners in its Department of Professional Practice (DPP) had surreptitiously obtained highly confidential information on upcoming PCAOB inspections. In obtaining this information, these KPMG partners were able to anticipate and prepare for PCAOB inspections, causing the firm’s inspection deficiency rate to plummet and its executives to tout the success of their efforts to improve audit quality. Once the firm discovered the scandal, the individuals involved were terminated, and six of them were ultimately convicted of felonies. This case study introduces students to relevant auditing standards, audit quality concepts, and facilitates discussion of a number of ethical issues. Learning objectives for this case include obtaining an understanding of the PCAOB and its inspection program, understanding audit documentation standards, demonstrating the ability to evaluate ethical issues, applying the fraud triangle in a unique setting, and assessing responsibility for the various parties involved.