After major corporate and accounting scandals like those that affected Tyco, Worldcom and Enron the Federal government passed a law known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act. This law was passed in hopes of thwarting illegal and misleading acts by financial reporters and putting a stop to the decline of public trust in accounting and reporting practices. Two important topics covered in Sarbanes-Oxley are auditor independence and the reporting and assessment of internal controls under section 404.
Sarbanes-Oxley contains eleven titles and covers a wide range of topics from the implementation of new compliance requirements to the criminal penalties of any violations of the rulings. One very important aspect touched upon in Sarbanes-Oxley is auditor independence. Auditor independence and the part an auditor plays in corporate financial reporting in the wake of all the corporate scandals have become extremely important. It has become increasingly important in the training and professional ethics of an auditor. The objective of auditor independence is to have the auditor “be unbiased and impartial with respect to the financial statements and other information they audit”0. There are three aspects of practical auditor independence, programming independence, investigative independence and reporting independence.
Reporting independence is extremely important because it is the main objective of auditor’s independence, the prevention of any client influence on the outcome of what is to be reported. It is crucial for an auditor to not feel any need
to be loyal or favorable in their reporting towards the client. The auditor’s obligation is to report fully and justly on the financial statements of the client.
The second aspect, investigative independence, focuses on the auditors need to have full and free access to the client’s books, statements, registers and any other documentation needed to perform the audit. In addition if an auditor requires any interpretations of the documents the client must assist the auditor in attaining the needed understanding of the records.
The last aspect, programming independence, covers the need of the auditor to have absolutely no interference from their audit client in how the audit is run. An audit client cannot attempt to control any aspects of the audit such as changing or restricting any procedures an auditor may want to perform. The audit client may not try to control any of the audit work and may not put any type of restrictions on how many auditors may come to the location to perform fieldwork.
Title II of Sarbanes-Oxley covers Auditor independence, it contains nine sections all covering different aspects of auditors’ independence. Section 201, Services outside the Scope of Practice of Auditors, details what activities are not allowed to be performed by auditors for a client if they are to be performing an audit...