Five other large accountancy firms in the Netherlands have launched investigations into possible cheating by staff during compulsory tests, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Tuesday.
BDO, Mazars, PwC, Deloitte and EY all say they have started an internal probe following a request by the financial services regulator AFM, the FD and NRC reported.
On Friday KPMG admitted that 500 of its staff in the Netherlands had cheated in the exams by sharing the answers to questions. The tests are designed to ensure accountants keep their expertise up to scratch through “permanent education”.
BDO, the number five on the Dutch market, told the FD it had been requested to look into possible fraud at the end of December after a whistleblower had sounded the alarm at KPMG.
Chairman René Nelis would give little detail to the paper but did say “clearly this is not good for the sector’s reputation”, the FD said. The other firms also confirmed they were looking into possible fraud.
As yet it is unclear what action the AFM is planning to take against KPMG. In 2019, the American arm of KPMG was fined $50 million because its accountants were exchanging exam answers with each other.
The Volkskrant newspaper said in an editorial that the cheating showed “a total lack of integrity and an overdose of opportunism” at the company, which has been hit by earlier scandals involving tax avoidance and fraud.
“One would hope the latest revelations will lead to an ethical revival, but the omens are not favourable,” the VK said. “KPMG’s reaction is laconic. Supervisory board chief Roger van Boxtel, who was himself guilty of cheating, is resigning, another is stepping aside, and there has been a discussion with the employees involved.
“With an integrity watchdog like KMPG, a zero-tolerance policy would have made more sense. It is to be hoped that by imposing sanctions, regulator AFM will still make it clear to the accountants they are guilty of a mortal sin.”
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