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IESBA Redefines Accountants’ Ethical Role When Laws and Regulations Broken

  • IESBA (International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants) (lt gray) Image

Jul 14, 2016

On July 14, 2016, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) released a new standard, Responding to Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations. The standard sets out a first-of-its-kind framework to guide professional accountants in what actions to take in the public interest when they become aware of a potential illegal act, known as non-compliance with laws and regulations, or NOCLAR, committed by a client or employer.

The standard applies to all categories of professional accountants, including auditors, other professional accountants in public practice, and professional accountants in organizations, including those in businesses, government, education, and the not-for-profit sector. It addresses breaches of laws and regulations that deal with matters such as fraud, corruption and bribery, money laundering, tax payments, financial products and services, environmental protection, and public health and safety.

Among other matters, the new standard provides a clear pathway for auditors and other professional accountants to disclose potential non-compliance situations to appropriate public authorities in certain situations without being constrained by the ethical duty of confidentiality. It also places renewed emphasis on the role of senior-level accountants in business in promoting a culture of compliance with laws and regulations and prevention of non-compliance within their organizations.

The standard is the result of an extensive six-year consultative process, including two Exposure Drafts, three global roundtables in Hong Kong, Brussels, and Washington, DC, and extensive outreach to the global regulatory community, international policy-making organizations, investors, preparers, the corporate governance community, national standard setters, accounting firms, professional accountancy organizations, and other stakeholders. In developing the standard, the Ethics Board also liaised closely with the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) so that the new standard and the IAASB’s International Standards on Auditing are aligned.

For an overview of the standard, see the At-a-Glance document. For a summary of the Ethics Board’s decisions in response to significant comments from respondents on the May 2015 Exposure Draft, see the Basis for Conclusions. Additional resources, including a fact sheet and video Q&A series, are available on the NOCLAR web page.


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