Jessica Fino 11 Jan 2018 11:11am

PwC banned from auditing listed companies in India

PwC’s member firm Price Waterhouse has been banned from auditing listed companies in India for two years and ordered to pay a fine of 131m rupees (£1.5m)
Caption: The firm also faces a ban in Ukraine

The ban comes after the firm was accused of negligence in its audit work at the now defunct Satyam Computer Services. It doesn't include 2017/18 audits for listed companies which are already in progress.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India said Price Waterhouse chose to rely on “glaring anomalies” and huge differences in the company’s balance confirmations during its audit work between 2001 and 2008.

Satyam was an IT services company which has ceased operations after an accountancy scandal in 2009. At the time, chairman Byrraju Ramalinga Raju confessed he made up about $1bn of the company’s cash on its books.

The Indian authorities said that, from 2003 onwards, Satyam’s sales revenues were inflated by accounting for 7,561 fake invoices, and Price Waterhouse failed to check the veracity of the monthly bank statements.

In fact, it accused Price Waterhouse of ignoring the balance confirmations received by banks, which were showing true balances.

The authority warned the network structure of operations adopted by PwC, should “not be used as a shield to avoid legal implications arising out of the certifications issued user the brand of the network” in India (Price Waterhouse).

Price Waterhouse said in a statement it was disappointed with the findings of the SEBI investigations and the adjudication order.

"The SEBI order relates to a fraud that took place nearly a decade ago in which we played no part and had no knowledge of. As we have said since 2009, there has been no intentional wrong doing by PW firms in the unprecedented management perpetrated fraud at Satyam, nor have we seen any material evidence to the contrary. We believe that the order is also not in line with the directions of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court order of 2010 and so we are confident of getting a stay."

However, it added it has learnt the lessons of Satyam and invested “heavily” over the last nine years in “building a robust and high quality audit practice”.

The Big Four firm was also banned from the Ukraine last year after it was revealed that it misrepresented financial statements of leading Ukrainian retail and commercial bank, PrivatBank.

PrivatBank was nationalised in December 2016 after the NBU identified a $5.4bn capital shortfall in its finances. PwC audited it from 2007 until 2015.