German Institute of Auditors expresses view on impairment of Greek sovereign debt

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20 Jul 2011

The German Institute of Auditors (Institut der Wirtschaftsprûfer in Deutschland, IDW) has published a press release regarding the treatment of Greek sovereign debt in interim financial statements at 30 June 2011 in light of current developments.

The IDW met on 19 July 2011 to discuss the measurement of Greek sovereign debt in the interim financial statements of financial institutions, insurance companies and other investors, with particular emphasis on a need for the recognition of an impairment.

The IDW press release notes the IDW has concluded there is a need to recognise an impairment of Greek sovereign debt in financial statements at 30 June 2011.

The following is an extract from the IDW press release (Deloitte translation):

From today's perspective, the IDW has identified a need for recognition of impairments. Considering the development of the political discussions over the last weeks, a bail-out of Greece without participation of private-sector creditors is deemed unlikely. Accordingly, the IDW does not find strong enough evidence for any approach that would avoid the recognition of an impairment loss. ... Subject to changes in circumstances before the authorisation of the interim financial statements as per 30 June 2011, auditors may only confirm accordance with GAAP within their review if the interim financial statements appropriately reflect the requirement to recognise impairments as mentioned above.

In the light of the increased risk in connection with Greek sovereign debt and the considerable uncertainties concerning the future political handling of the Greek debt crisis, the IDW continues to believe it is of vital importance that appropriate transparency is achieved through reporting within the notes and/or the MD&A. The key judgements applied when making accounting policy decisions and the risks involved in these judgements (risk of future need for participation of private-sector investors in a bail-out at yet unclear conditions, increasing exposure for investments in Greek sovereign debt) have to be disclosed appropriately by the reporting entity. Furthermore, quantitative disclosures about the amount of (direct or indirect) exposures are necessary.

Click for full press release (link to the IDW website, PDF 24k, in German).

The European Federation of Accountants (FEE) has also issued a general alert on the consideration of sovereign debt exposures in the half-year financial reporting (link to FEE website, PDF, 38k).

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