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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 112773
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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I am an accountant that worked public accounting firm. The

Customer Question

I am an accountant that worked for a public accounting firm. The firm performs audits on employee Benefit plans, which are managed by DOL ERISA guidelines and the AICPA. Recently, the firm had a DOL audit on a 2013 pension plan, because one of the audit reports left out a bunch of verbiage that is required by the AICPA and DOL. The DOL requested alot of working papers, which I helped retrieve. I found out that the audit working papers were not all complete or reviewed by a partner working on the audit. So, in order to get the working papers "up to code" a partner came in on a weekend and filled them out. Meanwhile, due to a control issue with the accounting software, signed off on them like he had signed off on them when the audit was performed back in 2013. Should I report them to the DOL and what problems could I run into for disclosing that information to the DOL?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Business Law
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Also, this happened at the end of last year.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Was there anything wrong with the plan itself or was the audit false or not factual (mismanaged money etc) that caused harm to the plan? Or is this more of an ethical concern you have about backdating the paperwork?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I think there is a big problem with contributions to the plan from the employers, because they are not easy to audit and the contributors to the plan have terrible payroll records. However, I don't think it is a going concern issue. The partner shaped some of the working papers, so that it would follow their conclusion. The partner also didn't complete all the working papers at the time of the audit, then issued a level or assurance as if those working papers supported their conclusion. An audit is just a way to provide assurance that the financials are reasonable and fairly stated with in the guidelines of GAAP. The real problem is I believe the auditor is taking on way too many clients, and is not providing a high enough level of assurance in order to say all the financials are good (if he says they are). He has in the past issued audit reports without really reviewing them, due to tax/reporting deadlines.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If you believe there is an issue with the audit you have a duty to report it to DOL. If you report it to DOL, you are supposed to be free from retaliation from the employer for doing so. If the employer retaliates against you for making the report, then you have grounds to sue the employer for that retaliation, even if after investigation the DOL does not find any improprieties. Also, as a CPA you have a duty to report ethical violations you are aware of to the CPA board and again if you are retaliated against, you have grounds to sue for that retaliation.
It is your choice to make the report or not, but if you choose to do so the employer cannot retaliate and if they do you have legal ground to sue them for the retaliation.

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