ACCOUNTING scandals are nothing new in Brazil. Its former president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached in August for cooking her government’s books. The bosses of its biggest building firms have landed behind bars for padding contracts with Petrobras, the state-run oil company. At least, governance gurus joke, all the imbroglios—and a three-year-old law against bribery—have prompted companies to replace what people used to call corruption departments with compliance offices. How ironic, then, that Brazil’s latest affair involves a firm that is meant to ensure that firms stay on the straight and narrow.
On December 5th it emerged that America’s Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) fined the Brazilian arm of Deloitte, the biggest of the “Big Four” accounting networks, $8m, for what Claudius Modesti, the watchdog’s director of enforcement, called “the most serious misconduct we’ve uncovered”. Deloitte is the first of the Big Four to be accused of failing to co-operate with a probe by the PCAOB, created by the Sarbanes-Oxley act of 2002, itself a response to a massive accounting scandal at Enron, an energy giant. The firm will also have to pay 5.4m reais ($1.6m) to Brazil’s securities regulator.
The bulk of the problems centre on Deloitte’s auditing of Gol, a troubled Brazilian low-cost airline with shares listed in New York….Continue reading