Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Financial Statement Fraud

Financial statements are traditionally prepared by accountants to provide business owners and other interested stakeholders with an accurate account of their financial status at any one specific point in time.  If however, the financial statements do not make accurate representations of the company’s financial status, they could be due either to errors or fraud.  Financial statement fraud  occurs when any pertinent information is either intentionally omitted or improperly disclosed on any of the four main financial statement components namely balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement and shareholder’s equity.   There are several available classifications of financial statement fraud.  Schilit (2010) in his famous book “Financial Shenanigans” names seven common types of financial fraud: (i) Recording revenue too soon, (ii) Recording bogus revenue, (iii) Boosting income with one-time gains, (iv) Shifting current expenses to a later or earlier period, (v) Failing to disclose all liabilities, (vi) Shifting current income to a later period and (vii) Shifting future expenses into the current period.   On the same note, the US-based Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) classifies the above financial statement fraud into five different categories.  They are namely (i) fictitious revenue, (ii) timing differences, (iii) improper assets valuations, (iv) concealed liabilities and expenses and (v) improper disclosures.