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ACCOUNTING ETHICS AND ITS IMPORTANT ROLE FOR THE REDUCTION OF ACCOUNTING FRAUD
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Ethics in professional Accounting are of utmost importance. Now that widespread corruption in the society and the failure of organization in every parts of the world have once more increased the need for accounting professionals to adhere strictly to the codes of professional ethics prescribe by international Accounting bodies. According to Ogbonna and Appeah (2011), the widespread corruption in the business environment seems to be the order of the day in all societies.
Accountants have obligations to shareholders, creditors, employees, suppliers, the government, the accounting profession and public at large Therefore, behaving ethically is an essential and expected trait; as a result an accountant is responsible for the consequences of his moral choices not only for his own life but also on the lives of other people.
There are many situations in which the guidelines or ethical codes appear not too relevant. Insuch situations, accountants attempt to resolve such issues by choosing from their actions. Many accountants are likely to resolve conflict of interest, situation that border on loss of revenue or job, personal interest and beliefs cultural background and double standards in the application of sanctions without reference to the expectations of the accountancy profession (Akadakpo and Izedonmi, 2013). The issue of what is wrong or right comes up on a daily basis and the practicing accountant, students of accounting, preparer of accounts, accountants planning to set up professional practice, as well as accountants not in practice have obligation to conduct themselves within the limits of good ethical standards.
A well-run profession or business must have high and consistent standards of ethics to stand fast and to stand the test of time (Smith and Smith, 2003). Finance and accounting departments in industries are taking ethical considerations to be extremely important (Vickers, 2005 as cited in Mathenge, 2012). A tension often exists between a company’s financial goals and strategies to improve profits, and ethical considerations with concerns for right-behavior. When the public loses confidence in the ability of the market to prevent corporate misbehavior, it often demands increased government regulation. For example, frequent cases of misconduct by corporate executives have led to the passage of various Acts in Nigeria, Such Acts include the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2004 Cap C20, LFN, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, 2004, the Investment and Securities Act (ISA) 2007, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC) Act 2003, Banks and other Financial Institutions Decree 2004, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation Act 2006, Money Laundering Act, and many others.
The ethical lapses among public accountants, these has necessitated a revision of the accounting professional standards (Rist, 2002). Interestingly, professional accountant working in accounting firms are faced with new challenges within the profession because of the debacles of large corporations (Swift, 2002). Organizational cultures and environment pose a good opportunity for accountants to exploit the loopholes in reporting and financial management. Though finance and accounting departments in most organisation are expected to foster the growth of ethical education and awareness but they are often faced with stiff resistance from the top level management (Fisher and Lovell, 2009).
Ethical standards set by professional accounting bodies in Nigeria, ICAN and ANAN, can act to supercharge the engine of morality and good conducts in the discharge of auditing functions in Nigeria. Efforts are being made to introduce and enforce the practice of ethical standards by the regulatory bodies, however, strict adherence to the standards has been a problem (Gowthorpe and Amat, 2005).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
Even with knowledge of good ethical guidelines, members still fall foul of the rules. The confidence ofthe investing public in the practicing accountants is being called to question. People have asked why members breach rules and whether all that needs to be included under ethical guidelines have been duty covered or whether the problem has more to do with procedures for implementing/enforcing the ethical standards.
Even though recognized professional accounting bodies in Nigeria, like ICAN and ANAN, are tryingvery hard to ensure best practice in the auditing profession via the enforcement of professional code of conduct for their members, the strict observance of such codes is still questionable. This study examine the need for good ethical values in professional practice of public accounting in Nigeria. Since there is growing critism of accountants in public practice and their counterparts in private sectors then it is of significance to embark on a study such as this to further explore the relationship between accounting ethics and the practice of accounting profession in Nigeria. The following research questions were raised to address this problem.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objectives o the study is to examine accounting ethics and its important roles in the reduction of accounting fraud. The specific objectives are as follows;
To examine whether quantum of fines and/or punishment meted to erring members serve as reference to members.
The existence of professional clause for declaration of compliance to ethical standard by Auditors/accountants in their reports
3. To examine whether accounting ethics have any impact on the practice of accounting profession in the reduction of accounting fraud in Nigeria.
To examine whether ethical codes of conduct address all the issues that border on ethical practices.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Does quantum of fines and/or punishment meted to erring members serve as deferent to members?
Does the existence of professional clause for declaration of compliance to ethical standard by Auditors/accountants in their reports?
3. Does accounting ethics have any impact on the practice of accounting profession in the reduction of accounting fraud in Nigeria?
4. Does ethical codes of conduct address all the issues that border on ethical practices?
1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESIS
HO: There is no significant impact of accounting ethics in the reduction of accounting fraud.
HI: There is a significant impact of accounting ethics in the reduction of accounting fraud.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Finding from the study will be of immense benefits in a number of ways and to different groups of persons.
For policy making, the expected result outcome shall serve as a useful guide for future policies as it relates to accounting ethics and fraud reduction.
For further studies, it will serve as a reservoir of knowledge for such academic exercises.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study covers accounting ethics and its important role in the reduction of accounting fraud. The study limits scope to some selected tertiary institution in Rivers State which include Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Port Harcourt polytechnic, Rumuola Port Harcourt.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The limitations encountered by the researcher of this work are given as follows:
The confidential nature of information in the institutions posed as a problem to this study.
The researcher was unable to reach all the members of the sample as a result of their frequent travels and busy schedule.
The sample used in the research though representative but it is relatively small compared to the population, as a result of lack of financial with which to carry out the research on a greater sample.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Ethics:- Ethicsis a moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong.
Accounting Ethics:- Accounting ethics is primarily a field of applied ethics and is part of business ethics and human ethics, the study of moral values and judgments as they apply to accountancy.
Performance:- A performance, in the performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers present one or more works of art to an audience. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience members often applaud.
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