The Audit Cartel Prem Sikka in Guardian

Prof Prem Sikka

Never mind showbusiness, there's no business like the accountancy business. Accountancy firms have a licence to print money because they enjoy access to a state-guaranteed market for auditing. Companies, hospitals, schools, charities, universities, trade unions and housing associations have to submit to an audit, even though the auditor might issue duff reports. Anyone refusing their services faces a prison sentence.

Major company audits are the most lucrative and that market is dominated by just four global auditing firms. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young have global revenues of over $80 billion (£41bn) a year, which is exceeded by the gross domestic product of only 54 nation states. These firms dominate the structures that make accounting and auditing rules.

Following the Enron and WorldCom debacles and the demise of Arthur Andersen, the auditing market has become further concentrated in those four firms. Many major companies looking for global coverage find that the auditor choice is very restricted.

Click here to read Prem Sikka's column in Guardian


Santosh Puthran

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