Malaysiakini News

Two years on, MIA probe on 1MDB ex-auditors still ongoing

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The Malaysian Institute of Accountants' (MIA) investigation on two former 1MDB auditors is still ongoing - two years since the investigation started.

According to a report by The Star today, the MIA had started the investigation in mid-2016 and are still determining whether KPMG and Deloitte had breached the Accountants Act 1967 when they signed off on 1MDB’s accounts on 2009 and 2014.

“There are complaints lodged against KPMG and Deloitte and we are investigating the auditors in question. The complaints are on the auditors and it is ongoing,” MIA chief executive officer Nurmazilah Mahzan was quoted as saying.

Nurmazilah said the MIA - which regulates the accounting profession - could not determine at this stage when the investigation would be completed.

She reportedly said that the findings of the investigations will be studied by a committee.

If the auditors are found guilty or if there is a basis to the complaints against the auditors, then the MIA would have to wait for the decision of its disciplinary committee.

The report also quoted MIA executive director for surveillance and enforcement, Muhammad Redzuan Abdullah saying that the investigations are now at the disciplinary committee level.

Ernst & Young (EY) was 1MDB’s first auditor when the state investment fund was set up in 2009, but resigned without signing off on any of 1MDB’s accounts.

KPMG stepped in after the resignation and signed off on 1MDB’s accounts for the financial years ending March 31 in 2010, 2011, and 2012, without qualification from auditors.

Deloitte took over from KMPG in December 2013 after 1MDB contended that KPMG could not conclude its 2013 accounts.

Deloitte then signed off on 1MDB’s 2013 and 2014 accounts without qualification.

In light of the US Department of Justice’s 2016 allegations of misappropriation at 1MDB however, Deloitte made the “unusual” move to announce those accounts should not be relied on until those allegations are determined in court.

Previously, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had found that 1MDB - particularly its sole shareholder Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc), then headed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak - had been terminating its auditors once they insisted upon seeing certain documents.

The PAC report on its investigation on 1MDB found that EY had requested several documents in March 2010 to ascertain the value of assets and liabilities in 1MDB’s joint venture with Petrosaudi International.

After EY had insisted on the documents on several occasions, the report said, “Messers EY's stance has caused unease to 1MDB's management and the shareholder and board of directors decided to terminate EY's services.”

As for KPMG, the PAC said the audit firm was planning to issue a qualified audit report for the 2013 financial year when 1MDB abruptly replaced it with Deloitte.

The decision to issue a qualified audit report followed 1MDB’s failure to provide KPMG auditors with adequate documentary evidence of the value of its investments in the Cayman Islands, but the MOF Inc terminated KPMG’s contract before the report was issued.

In accounting parlance, a qualified audit opinion means that accounting best-practices have not been adhered to, but no misrepresentation had been found in a company's financial report.

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