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Controversial auditor stays in council
January, 12th 2009

Just when the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) probes allegations of fraud against auditors of Pricewaterhouse in the Satyam and Global Trust Bank (GTB) cases, an auditor from the firm who was part of both the audits continues to sit on the all-important council of the accounting regulator, raising many eyebrows.

According to sources, the concerned senior auditor of Pricewaterhouse is already a suspect for being part of the audit team that worked on GTB. ICAI's disciplinary committee is investigating the matter after hauling up Pricewaterhouse's audit team for alleged negligence in auditing of books of accounts of the bank and failing to detect its huge levels of NPAs.

The probe into the GTB issue has been on for the last three years, though the ICAI is yet to arrive at a final decision on the matter. When asked why has it still not completed its investigation into the GTB case, ICAI president Ved Jain blamed the slow pace of progress to the provisions contained in the CA Act before a November 2006 amendment. "The 2006 amendment allows us to expeditiously complete disciplinary action. However, the GTB case was taken up before this amendment and therefore it has been stuck in slow progress," he said.

Just when the ICAI probes the GTB issue, the senior auditor of Pricewaterhouse continues to remain on its council, that carries the task of managing ICAI's affairs. The same auditor is now believed to have been caught on the wrong foot again, having been part of Pricewaterhouse's audit team that worked on Satyam books in the previous years.

The auditor's presence on the ICAI council has irked some of the senior chartered accountants who, requesting anonymity, also criticise the CA body for its slow pace of action. "How can a person who was part of two suspect audits still continue on the ICAI's council, especially when inquiry is on in the matter. Moreover, had the ICAI taken quick action on the GTB matter, it is possible that the concerned auditor would not be part of the Satyam audit team that is under doubt now for alleged misconduct," they said.

According to sources, the concerned Pricewaterhouse auditor also chairs one of the non-standing committee of the ICAI.

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