You don’t count

Opaque reporting in company accounts is not in the public interest says Richard Murphy.

The failings of accounting have been afforded much attention of late. This has been actively appropriate. Many failed companies, dragged down by financial shenanigans of which no prior warning was given in too many cases, provide ample justification for the criticisms.

The focus of the debate has been on the audit profession, and most especially the Big Four firms who audit almost all the large companies in the UK and around the world. That the debate is at its most fevered in the UK is not surprising. What is little appreciated is that three of those four firms – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte and Ernst and Young – are headquartered in the UK. Only KPMG has its head office elsewhere – in the Netherlands or Switzerland, depending on how you interpret these things.

The UK has also been at the blunt end of many of the more egregious corporate failures, from banks that fell over in 2008 to,

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Richard Murphy

Richard Murphy is a chartered accountant and a political economist, an anti-poverty campaigner and a tax expert. He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London …

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