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November 14, 2008

IASB commits to due process

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) will not make further changes to IFRS without completing proper due process, according to board member John Hill.

Political pressure recently forced the IASB to make rapid changes to IAS 39 and IFRS 7 without completing due process.

However, Hill said that following the amendments, the board has heard “loud and clear” from stakeholders, including financial statement preparers, users, analysts and auditors that any future changes must be made with proper due process and in co-ordination with the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

Hill was speaking as chair of a joint IASB and FASB round table held in London last week to help identify financial reporting issues highlighted by the global financial crisis. A similar round table was held in the US on 25 November and one will be help in Japan on 3 December.

His comments follow requests from the EC that the IASB consider rushing through further changes to IAS 39 in time for European banks to prepare their end of year financial statements.

Hill told The Accountant the board will not know whether it will make changes to IFRS in time for the year end until after the final round table is held in Japan. If they decide urgent changes are needed, due process will still be followed.

He added that the IASB is “very fortunate” FASB has disrupted its own schedule to participate in the round tables to ensure any changes are made in unison by the two boards.

The IASB’s commitment to due process follows concerns from several stakeholders that the independence of international standard-setting is being threatened.

In a letter to the Financial Times, UK Accounting Standards Board chair Ian Mackintosh, representatives of all Big Four firms and several other industry stakeholders voiced concern about the EC requests.

They said that after due process, the IASB must remain independent, even if it disagrees with the EC, and that Europe must accept the board’s decision or risk detaching itself from the global movement towards common standards.

The IASB’s oversight body, the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation, also voiced concern, writing to the G-20 leaders to urge them not to tamper with existing accounting rules.

Carolyn Canham

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