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CPA Australia outlines next steps in KPMG misconduct investigation

CPA Australia has provided an update on its investigation into KPMG’s internal cheating saga.

Business Emma Ryan 22 October 2021
— 2 minute read

In a notice issued to members on Wednesday (20 October), CPA Australia president and chairman Merran Kelsall flagged the next steps of the body’s investigation into professional development misconduct found at KPMG over several years

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“Over the past month, CPA Australia has been in communication with KPMG about professional development misconduct by some of KPMG’s employees over several years in connection with the firm’s internal training program. These discussions have been constructive and yielded outcomes which we are pleased to update members about here, Ms Kelsall said.

“We take the integrity of professional development assessments by our members very seriously. In addition, KPMG is CPA Australia’s external auditor. In our communications with KPMG, we have reiterated the need to take appropriate action to uphold our Constitution and By-Laws and the integrity of the CPA Australia audit.

“KPMG has confirmed to us that it will cooperate fully with CPA Australia in our investigation into this matter. Further, KPMG has confirmed that it will provide a detailed explanation of its investigation, the conduct identified and any actions taken, including remedial action and sanctions applied.

Ms Kelsall noted that with respect to the CPA Australia audit, KPMG has confirmed its confidence in the quality of their work for CPA Australia including that review procedures and audit partner oversight is of a high standard.

“KPMG has also confirmed that no employees involved in the misconduct will participate in the CPA Australia audit and that all audit team members have completed appropriate training and professional development courses specific to their roles, she said.

In conclusion, Ms Kelsall said a further update will be provided to members upon completion of CPA Australia’s review. At this stage, no concrete date has been set for when that will be.

The investigation itself centres around allegations of widespread cheating during internal training tests at KPMG between 2016 and 2020.

The misconduct saw 1,131 partners and staff – about 12 per cent of total staff – either share or receive answers during mandatory internal online training tests that covered topics including professional independence, auditing, and accounting. 

The firm uncovered the misconduct in early 2020, leading to an internal investigation and disclosure to regulators, including the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and ASIC.

Last month, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand said it too was monitoring the fallout.

“This is an ongoing matter, we are aware that in accordance with the Order, KPMG is required to provide information to the PCAOB within 120 days. We continue to monitor the outcome of the firm’s and regulator’s actions,” a CA ANZ spokesperson told Accountants Daily at the time.

“CA ANZ administers its professional conduct oversight role with due process, as a result we are unable to comment on the implications of the PCAOB decision for members at this time.”

CPA Australia outlines next steps in KPMG misconduct investigation
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Emma Ryan

Emma Ryan is the deputy head of content at Momentum Media and editor of the company's legal publication, Lawyers Weekly.

Emma has worked for Momentum Media since 2015 and has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest stories in corporate Australia. In addition, she has produced exclusive multimedia and event content related to the company's respective brands and audiences.

A journalist by training, Emma has spent her career connecting with key industry stakeholders across a variety of platforms, including online, podcast and radio. She graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism).

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