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deceitful profession, certified public accountants would most certainly not be the first to come to mind. That is because CPAs are known and respected for their honesty. The profession goes out of its way to project that image, and there is a certain amount of truth to it. However, not all CPAs are squeaky clean and respected for their honesty. Some are quite dishonest and are putting a black mark on the image of the entire profession. There is one area where the CPA profession has fallen short of protecting the public interest. There is a general duty that accountants owe to their clients and the other persons who are affected by their actions. Two elements compose the general duty of performance: skill and care. Another element and responsibility is owed to clients and other persons, which is that accountants should observe a standard of ethical or social responsibility.
One set of difficulties concerns ethics education's ability to instill the chosen values and to make them stick after the educational process is completed. Instruction in accounting ethics is directed at people whose character-or lack there-of-has largely been formed by the time the instruction occurs. Even those who are positively influenced by ethics instruction, moreover, may still behave irresponsibly if their careers or their livelihoods require them to act in their client's financial interest (Fulmer, 1987).
Recent pressure to include more ethics instruction in the accounting classroom has placed an emphasis on individuals who have a sense of moral responsibility. In accounting ethics education literature the benefits of teaching ethics have been greatly influenced by the following set of goals presented by Loeb (1988): a) Relate accounting education to moral issues; b) Recognize issues in accounting that have ethical implications; c) Develop "a sense of moral obligation" or responsibility; d) Develop the abilities needed to deal with ethical conflicts or dilemmas; e) Learn to deal with uncertainties of the accounting profession; f) "Set the stage for" a change in ethical behavior and g) Appreciate and understand the history and composition of all aspects of accounting ethics and their relationship to the general field of ethics (Metzger, 1992).
An emphasis on codes of conduct may result in students' failure to "develop discretion and judgment. . .which are more than simply a matter of what acts are forbidden, which are required, and which are permissible" (Whiteck, 1992). Emphasis on rules may quickly become training in how to get around the rules while remaining technically legal. While students must be acquainted with professional codes of conduct as part of their preparation for a career, most researchers on ethics do not consider such material to be sufficient ethical training. The remaining of this essay will focus on ethics violations of accounting rules:
102 -- Integrity and Objectivity -- Case of Mr. Allgyer
Mr. Allgyer, formerly of the firm Arthur Andersen LLP, was suspended for a period of two years by the AICPA and the Illinois Society of CPAs as a result of his consent on June 19, 2001 to the issuance of an Order Instituting Public Administrative Proceedings, Making Findings and Imposing Remedial Sanctions Pursuant to Rule 102(e) of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Rules of Practice in connection with his performance of professional services for Waste Management, Inc. Without admitting or denying the findings, Mr. Allgyer was denied the privilege of appearing or practicing before the SEC with the right to apply for reinstatement after five years and was ordered to pay a civil monetary penalty of $50,000.
201 -- Professional Competence -- Case of Mr. Beck
Information came to the attention of the Ethics Charging Authority (comprised of the AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee and the Kentucky Society of CPAs Professional Ethics) alleging a disciplinary matter with respect to Mr. Beck's performance of professional services in connection with the audit of a commercial entity. After an investigation, Mr. Beck was charged with violating Rule 201 of the Codes of Professional Conduct. In consideration of the ECA forgoing any further proceedings in this matter, Mr. Beck agreed: To comply immediately with professional standards applicable to the professional services he performs, and to submit evidence of such compliance; To be suspended by the AICPA and the Kentucky Society of CPAs for a period of…[continue]
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