PwC not off the hook – PAAB . . . as firm drops August 26

Maria Hamutenya

The Public Accounts and Auditor’s Board (PAAB) maintains that PwC Namibia is not off the hook over allegations made against it that it deliberately overlooked anomalies found during its audit of August 26.

This is despite the international firm resigning recently as the auditor of August 26. “The resignation of an auditor does not impact the investigations into alleged misconduct with regards to August 26. Investigations will be done as long as the alleged misconduct occurred during the time when the registered and licenced auditor was in office,” PAAB Head of Secretariat, Zaa Nashandi, told Windhoek Observer.

Whether PAAB was aware of PwC stepping down as August 26 auditors, Nashandi said he was not aware. “An auditor does not have an obligation legally or otherwise to inform us when they resign from a client.”

“As previously mentioned, our investigations by nature do take time as we need to ensure fairness and correct outcome for all parties. We can only say investigations are underway and will not comment on when they will likely be concluded,” Nashandi added.

However, he argued that there is an expectation gap between what the public perceives as the role of the auditor when it comes to issues like fraud and non-compliance with regulations, versus what the role of the auditor is as per the International Standards on Auditing (ISA’s).

“The primary responsibility for the prevention and detection of fraud rests with both those charged with governance of the entity and management,” he said.

“It is important that management, with the oversight of those charged with governance, place a strong emphasis on fraud prevention, which may reduce opportunities for fraud to take place, and fraud deterrence, which could persuade individuals not to commit fraud because of the likelihood of detection and punishment.”

PwC Country Senior Partner and Tax Leader, Chantell Husselmann, was tightlipped on Tuesday when asked why the company had dropped August 26 as a client. “PwC is unable to comment due to reasons of client confidentiality,” she told Windhoek Observer.

The investigation into the conduct of PwC by PAAB comes after Affirmative Repositioning (AR) leader, Job Amupanda, laid a complaint with the regulator citing its failure to report anomalies in the accounts of August 26, now its former client.

The development also comes after another auditing firm, Stier Vente Associates, which provided auditing services to state-owned Fishcor, is reported to have only reported suspicious transactions to PAAB months after the Fishrot scandal became public knowledge.

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