How passage of forensic auditing bill will help curb corruption – Auditors

Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.
Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.

The Association of Forensic and Investigative Auditors, AFIA, has urged the Nigerian government to facilitate the speedy passage of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria Bill, which has scaled the first reading at the Senate.

It said this will facilitate the transition from the traditional audit method to forensic and investigative audit.

The association said the bill, when passed by the National Assembly, would enhance the capacity of AFIA to support the federal government’s effort to tackle corruption and prevent fraud in the system.

The money that would be saved by blocking corruption leakages, president of the association, Victoria Enape, said, would be enough to take the country out of under-development, employ youth, build hospitals and roads for the people.

She added that more than 60 per cent of the annual revenue losses by public institutions and agencies are as a result of corruption and lack of proactive fraud preventive measures,

The association, whose members consist of trained personnel with advanced auditing knowledge and experience to identify and detect cases of fraud, described as alarming the increasing incidences of corruption and fraud in public institutions in Nigeria in particular, and Africa in general.

“Government has lost several billions in the past few years to corruption and fraud. Some country’s treasury, like that of Nigeria, has been emptied through these twin malaise. This is due to the inability of traditional auditing processes and reporting to identify and stop these incidences,” Mrs. Enape said.

“In the past 10 years, the number of reported cases of corruption and fraud have continued to soar radically across the country and regions. Compounding these are the challenges faced by the audit teams and a general lack of the necessary skills set to collect right audit evidence critical to criminal investigations.

“Our association’s work is to put in place some measures to detect and prevent or stop the wrong from taking place in future, through the use of science and technology. Forensic and Investigative audit uses preventive forensic mechanisms and ensures objectivity and transparency in advanced auditing,” she added.

Mrs. Enape, who was speaking during a training and induction of new members of the association, said while regulatory measures and internal controls in reporting requirements have helped to lessen the possibilities for falsified activities, history shown that indigenous employees could manipulate even the best control systems for personal gains.

Forensic auditors, she pointed out, were different from other class of auditors, because they look beyond figures in financial statement and focus on investigating the inadequacies and shortcomings in the existing financial systems with the aim of tackling them.

She said forensic and investigative auditors work as accountants, auditors, lawyers, police and other security agencies, stock brokers, tax professionals, economists, judicial officers and court registrars, criminologists, computer specialists and bankers.

The AFIA boss said recent developments in most parts of the world showed the growing greed among human beings to manipulate accounting facts and figures to deceive the people, hence the need to train and equip its members with advanced auditing skills that would enable them find out who, what, where, why, when and how fraud has taken place..

She said the increase in financial fraud as a result of the inability of internal auditing systems to track and prevent financial fraud schemes gave rise to the new profession of forensic and investigative audit.

“AFIA is capable of transforming traditional or statutory auditors through training and certification to enable them get the necessary skills that can help them to detect and prevent fraud. This will in turn assist in restoring sanity in Nigeria financial management system and bring back our economy to its original condition.

“It will also engender investors trust and public confidence in the country’s accounting and financial reporting systems and reduce the occurrence of fraud and loss of public assets,” she said.

The official said government’s patronage of indigenous forensic auditors in place of their foreign counterparts would not only save huge resources in foreign exchange, but would also enhance their capacity to contribute their quota to the growth of the economy.

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Bassey Udo is PREMIUM TIMES’ Business & Economy Editor. He has covered finance, energy, oil, gas & extractive industries for over a decade. He is a winner of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation (Wealth of Nations) Award for Business Reporting. Bassey is an alumnus of the U.S. International Visitors Leadership Programme. Twitter: @ba_udo

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