You have to go outside of the US to see a trial of a Big Four audit firm to know what I’m talking about. Australia’s Centro case against PwC or Canada’s Nortel case where Deloitte partners testified recently tell you everything you need to know about why the Big Four will settle every time. Rather than have a jury and the public hear and see the pathetic state of the audit profession, its inability to stop executives who want to cheat, and its unwillingness to acknowledge liability as a firm when it screws up, the firms will reach into their seemingly bottomless pockets and pay up.
I wrote this post about a month ago for Forbes.com and my column, “Accounting Watchdog” on a very important legal decision related to a real estate company, Centro, in Australia. Centro’s auditors were PwC.
I was recently interviewed for the radio show, Background Briefing, and the segment, “Auditing the Auditors,” that aired Sunday August 14th in Australia. The transcript and a podcast are available. I get the last word in response to a defense of the auditors by John Hempton re: the Chinese reverse merger scandals.