KPMG commits $1.9 billion gaffe?! Who says bigger is better!?!

A partner at KPMG, Christopher Whittingham, led a team of twenty auditors that signed an unqualified audit report on the financial accounts of Allco Finance Group for the year ended June 30, 2007; however, those financials had misclassified debt of 1.9 billion dollars by presenting them as noncurrent when, in fact, they were current liabilities and, thus, payable within a year’s time.

To make matters more embarrassing for Christopher Whittingham, apparently he was unaware of the error until BusinessDay published a story on February 26, 2008, stating that Allco Finance Group had understated its debt by approximately two billion dollars.  As accountants, we all know that this is a significant error on the part of the auditors, since whether or not Allco Finance Group could have met its current debt payments and remained solvent customarily would have been indicated by the amount of its current liabilities in relation to its current assets.

Allco was one of the high-profile collapses during the global financial crisis. It was placed in liquidation after it was discovered in May that it could not repay more than one billion dollars in loans.  In November, 2008, receivers were appointed after Allco Finance Group became insolvent.

How did Whittingham excuse this error as the partner presumably in charge of this audit?  BusinessDay reports Mr. Whittingham saying that he had relied on managers for aspects of the audit.

Mr. Whittingham received a nine-month suspension from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, a $10,000 fine, and 10 hours of professional education for this faux pas. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said it was “concerned” Sydney-based Christopher Neville Whittingham “failed to carry out or adequately and properly perform his duties as an auditor” as well as failed to ensure that the audit was conducted in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards, even though he had a team of twenty auditors working on this audit.

While Mr Whittingham cannot work as an auditor in Australia, he was sent by KPMG to Thailand last year to work as a consultant. He is not expected to return from the assignment until April 2012.

William Brighenti, Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Accountants CPA Hartford, LLC

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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