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February 24, 2010

Region round-up

Asia-Pacific

• Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has proposed to approve a selection of IFRS and international interpretations released between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2009 for voluntary use by certain Japanese listed companies.

The FSA decided last year to allow the largest Japanese companies to prepare their consolidated financial statements using IFRS for financial years ending on or after 31 March 2010. However, only IFRS that have been approved by the Japanese regulator can be applied.

In December, the FSA ruled that all IFRS and International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) interpretations issued by the IASB on or before 30 June 2009 were suitable for application in Japan.

The regulator is now proposing to approve changes to IFRS and IFRIC interpretations that were published in the past six months. This includes amendments to IFRS 1, IAS 32, IAS 24 and IFRIC 14, as well as the new IFRS 9 and IFRIC 19.

Comments on the proposals are due by 22 February.

• The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore has issued the final set of clarified Singapore Standards on Auditing (SSAs), following approval by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

The clarified SSAs are based on their international equivalents, the clarified International Standards on Auditing (ISAs), which were issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).

The IAASB’s clarity project aimed to advance the process of global audit convergence and enhance the quality and uniformity of audit practices worldwide.

The SSAs come into effect for audits of financial statements that cover periods beginning on or after 15 December 2009.

• The Philippines Auditing and Assurance Standards Council (AASC) is seeking comments on a draft Philippine Auditing Practice Statement: Audit Evidence – Practical Problems in Audit of Financial Statements.

The draft statement provides Philippines-specific practical guidance to auditors on how to deal with situations where clients are unable to prepare and submit information the auditor needs to complete audit work. This includes supporting schedules, reports and computations.

All AASC pronouncements are based on those issued by the International Audit and Assurance Standards Board.

The deadline for comments is 9 May.

• The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants has updated its members’ handbook to include amendments to HKFRS 1 First-time Adoption of Hong Kong Financial Reporting Standards.

The amendment is based on changes published by the International Accounting Standards Board last month to the corresponding IFRS 1.

It relieves first-time adopters of HKFRS from providing additional disclosures introduced in amendments to HKFRS 7, which were based on amendments made to IFRS 7 in March 2009. <

North America, Latin America

• The Caribbean nations Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago have adopted IFRS for SMEs.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago (ICATT) said the simplified accounting standards will apply to most reporting entities in the country. Entities that publish general purpose financial statements for external users, but are not publicly accountable, are eligible to implement IFRS for SMEs. ICATT president Anthony Pierrem said IFRS for SMEs is a step in the right direction and will keep the nation in line with international best practice.

• The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is continuing to work towards preparing the country for IFRS despite uncertainty over a road map for adoption. A new AICPA publication, IFRS Accounting Trends & Techniques, has been written for management, financial statement preparers, investors, analysts and academics. It is intended to increase their understanding and awareness of IFRS and the accounting policies of industries around the world that already use IFRS. The report covers the experience of 100 companies, including BP, Nokia, Siemens, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone, Royal Dutch Shell and Telecom Italia.

• Four former Ernst & Young US partners have been handed jail terms for their roles in tax shelter schemes.

According to US media reports, Robert Coplan was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $75,000 fine. Coplan was the leader of the firm’s individual tax shelter group and the former national director of its wealth planning practice.

Martin Nissenbaum was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. Nissenbaum was a member of the firm’s tax shelter group and national director of its personal income tax and retirement planning practice.

Richard Shapiro was sentenced to 28 months in prison ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.

Brian Vaughn was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

• The US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) hopes to enhance its transparency through a redesigned website. The new website aims to make registration, inspection, standard-setting and enforcement information more accessible and user-friendly to investors, auditors and other interested parties.

There will be an improved search function and the pages that are viewed most often will be accessible directly from the home page.

New pages will also be added for information about the PCAOB’s international programme, and research and analysis activities.

• The Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) and Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will assemble a team of technical staff to maintain the US GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy for public issuers registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The FAF and FASB said the team will begin to work towards the release of a taxonomy update in early 2011.

The US GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy is a list of computer-readable tags in eXtensible Business Reporting Language that allows companies to label pieces of financial data included in long-form financial statements and related footnote disclosures.

Europe

• The new European Financial Reporting Advisory Group’s Technical Experts Group (EFRAG TEG) will be chaired by Françoise Flores, the current EFRAG vice-chair. Flores is a partner at Mazars France. Mike Ashley from the UK will be the new EFRAG vice-chair.

The new EFRAG TEG will take over on 1 April. The other members will be: Gabi Ebbers, Germany; Nicklas Grip, Sweden; Araceli Mora, Spain; Nicolas de Paillerets, France; Hans Schoen, The Netherlands; Andy Simmonds, UK; Anna Sirocka, Poland; Andrea Toselli, Italy; Carsten Zielke, Germany.

Outgoing EFRAG chair Stig Enevoldsen said Flores’ strong commitment to IFRS in Europe will make EFRAG a key player.

• British banks believe the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has gotten proposals to revamp the impairment of financial instruments conceptually right but disagree with the chosen model, according to the British Bankers’ Association (BBA). IASB proposals introduce an expected-loss model, which would oblige banks to record losses if they expect a loan default is likely. At present, impairment is not triggered until losses are incurred.

“We think the precise model [the IASB has] chosen happens to be about the most complex model they could have found. We believe they can meet their underlying objectives in a much more straight forward way,” BBA executive director Paul Chisnall said.

• The UK Auditing Practices Board (APB) has issued guidance for auditors on the XBRL tagging of financial statements. XBRL tagging will be required for tax purposes in the UK from 2011. The APB guidance provides information on this requirement and on the application of the APB’s Ethical Standards for Auditors to non-audit services relating to XBRL tagging.

• The European Commission (EC) has decided to allow Canadian, Japanese and Swiss oversight authorities to exchange audit working papers and co-operate with EU jurisdictions. The EC said these jurisdictions fulfil the European requirements on reciprocal access to audit working papers, including the need to respect the confidential nature of the transferred documents. The recommendation to approve Canada, Japan and Switzerland as co-operative jurisdictions was first made last July.

• The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has appointed Jon Graham as managing director of its financial services arm. Graham is currently the managing director of business management trainer Kaplan Hawskmere, and has experience in business development, account and people management.

• A new public pensions framework launched by CIPFA has been endorsed by UK Local Government Minister Rosie Winterton. Winterton described the framework as “a valuable tool against critics who question the value for money of public service pension schemes”.

• An Ernst & Young (E&Y) survey has found there is little evidence to suggest IFRS is being employed by the European investment fund industry, despite the G20’s support for global accounting standards.

The poll of fund managers, administrators and supervisors in 44 European countries found just one-fifth of funds and administrators who have the option to use IFRS currently do so.

Twenty-two percent of managers and administrators polled chose to combine IFRS with other standards, such as US GAAP.

• Gritones Baldwin has been appointed as a technical adviser to the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB). Baldwin, who is currently a partner at KPMG France, will join the technical advisory team under Marie-Pierre Cordier. His term began in January and will continue for three years.

 

Africa, Middle East, South Asia

• The Arab Society of Chartered Accountants (ASCA) has listed highlights from the past year that included widespread official recognition for its qualification and a new management accountant certificate.

The management report noted that the Arab Certified Professional Accountant certificate, which is issued by the ASCA, has received official recognition from a number of Arab countries as an accredited qualification.

Countries recognising the qualification include Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Libya.

• The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) has signed a memorandum of understanding with online job site ROZEE.PK to develop a career portal. The portal is intended to help ICMAP’s career development office automate and manage interaction between students, members and employers.

Features of the portal will include online CV submission, alerts via email and SMS for jobs that match their individual criteria, and an alumni and members social networking section.

• PricewaterhouseCoopers India (PwC) has suffered an exodus of about 200 staff in the past two months, including 19 partners and tax leader Dinesh Kanabar, as the Satyam Computer Services fraud inflicts further damage, Indian media reports.

In a separate development, former PwC partner Srinivas Talluri, who left the firm following allegations of his involvement in the scandal that led to him being imprisoned, this week received bail of INR2 million ($43,331) by Supreme Court judge Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has recommended banning two chartered accountants associated with Lovelock & Lewes, a firm affiliated with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The ICAI’s disciplinary committee submitted a report in February last year that claimed P Ramakrishna and Manish Aggarwal were guilty of professional misconduct with regard to the collapsed Global Trust Bank.

The ICAI has recommended Ramakrishna be banned for five years and Aggarwal for three.

Indian media reports the ICAI, which regulates the profession, has upheld these findings. The alleged verdict is not final and will have to go through a process of validation in the High Court.

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