Table of Contents

Refer to ISA 240

When planning and performing audit procedures, evaluating and reporting the results thereof, the auditor should consider the risk of misstatement in the financial statements resulting from fraud or error.


It is an unintentional mistake in the financial information, which can occur any time during processing and recording of transactions. These include:

  • Mathematical or clerical mistakes;
  • Oversight or misrepresentation of facts;
  • Misapplication of accounting

Types of Errors

Errors of commission: These are errors that do not show in the trial balance because it still balances. This is where the correct amount for a transaction is recorded but the wrong person’s account. For debtors the correct class of accounts may be used but the wrong personal entries are entered.

Errors of omission: where a transaction is completely omitted from the books.

Error of principle: where an item is entered in the wrong class of account for example a fixed asset is debited to the expense account.

Compensating errors: where errors cancel each other out. The errors usually have occurred on opposite sides of the account that is on the credit side and the debit side with an equal amount. The errors in question are totally independent.

Error or original entry: when the original figure is incorrect and the double system entry is still observed.

Complete reversal of entries: where correct accounts are used but each item is shown on the wrong side of the account. For example crediting a sale in the debtor account and debiting the sales account.


It is the deliberate distortion of information together with the related misappropriation of assets. An irregularity becomes a fraud when it involves criminal deception that is seeking unjust advantage leading to misleading information.


This refers to intentional misrepresentation of financial information by one more individuals among management, employees or third parties.

Common types of fraud include:

  • Manipulation, alteration or falsification of records or
  • Misappropriation of
  • Misappropriation of accounting
  • Suppression or omission of effects of transactions on
  • Recording fictitious


The responsibility rests with management. This is implemented through the implementation and continuous operation of an adequate system of internal control. Such a system reduces but does not eliminate the possibility of fraud and error. The auditor seeks reasonable assurance that fraud or error, which may be material to the financial statements, has not occurred or if it has occurred, the effect is properly reflected in the financial statements. The auditor should plan his work so that he has reasonable expectation of detecting material misstatements in the financial information resulting from fraud and error.

The auditor is and cannot be held responsible for the prevention of fraud and error.

Risk of fraud and error

In addition to weaknesses in the accounting and internal control system events which the risk of fraud and error include:

  • Questions in respect to the integrity or competence of Where management is not honest and could misappropriate the company’s assets;
  • Unusual pressures within an entity g. pressure on management to report a certain level of profits;
  • Unusual transactions;
  • Difficulties in obtaining sufficient appropriate audit

If circumstances indicate the possible existence of fraud or error, the auditor should consider the potential effect on the financial statements. If the effect is material the auditor should perform additional procedures to dispel the suspicion. Where confirmed the auditor should satisfy himself that the effect of the fraud is properly reflected in the financial statements or errors are corrected. The auditor should communicate his findings to management on a timely basis if:

  • He believes fraud may exist, even if the potential effect on the financial statements would be immaterial or
  • Fraud or error is actually found to

Auditor’s general responsibility with regard to prevention of fraud

The primary responsibility for the prevention and detection of fraud rests with management. Management meets this responsibility by putting in place an internal control system that is aimed at preventing and detecting such fraud or error. E.g. segregation of duties is aimed at reducing changes of employees defrauding the company.

For the auditor prevention and detection of errors and fraud is only a secondary objective. The auditor seeks reasonable assurance that fraud or error, which may be material to the financial statements, has not occurred or if it has occurred that the effect is properly reflected in the financial statements.

Inherent limitations of an audit.

An audit is subject to the unavoidable risk that some material misstatement of the financial statements will not be detected, even though the audit is properly planned and performed in accordance with the ISA. The risk of not detecting misstatements resulting from fraud is higher than the risk of not detecting a material misstatement resulting from errors. This is because fraud involves acts designed to conceal it such as forgery and deliberate failure to record transactions. Unless the audit reveals evidence to the contrary, the auditor is entitled to accept representations from management as truthful and the documents as genuine.

However, the auditor should plan and perform his work with professional scepticism, recognising that conditions or events may be found that indicate that fraud or error may exist. Existence of an internal control system reduces the probability of misstatements in the financial reporting occurring due to frauds and errors but there is always a risk that the system may fail to operate as designed.

General Detection

The following procedures could be applied as general leads to where frauds or errors have taken place:

  • Compare the company’s balance sheet with those of previous two
  • Calculate ratios from the two balance sheets. The ratios to be calculated can be leverage ratio, activity ratios, performance ratio and profitability ratios.
  • Use searching inquiry to poise questions to management and the accounting staff.
  • Audit in depth such that the audit trail is established. Audit trail facilitates the checking a transaction recording process from the initial stage to the final stage of a For example an item like debtors one checks the date the sale took place, the invoice issued, the cash received at the date of sale, any other cash receipts after the date of sale and the balance. The balance the auditor gets should correspond with the one in the accounts.
  • Consult third parties in and out of the firm for example by use of debtors circularisation or lawyers
  • Use surprise checks and
  • Compare budgeted and actual results. Investigate in-depth the cause of any

Detection of errors.

  • Compare previous year’s figures with the current figure and ascertain that all changes are in order and
  • Cast the trial balance figures and ensure they
  • Check the names of the accounts in ledgers and those recorded in the trial balance to ensure that there are no
  • Compare debtors and creditors from ledgers and those in trial Debtors and creditors accounts are easily a source of confusion for incompetent staff especially when they involve many transactions.
  • Ensure that the totals of self-balancing accounts
  • Count items in trial balance in the current account and compare those in the previous Investigate any differences.
  • Check totals of subsidiary

Prevention of errors and frauds

  1. Strong internal control system that will ensure that assets are safeguarded and check collusion between
  2. Proper remuneration of
  3. Proper segregation of duties
  4. Overall supervisory controls by
  5. Use of budgets to control the company’s At the year-end the actual and budgeted results should be compared.
  6. Rotation of duties so that employees do not establish very close and absorbing relationships that could lead to
  7. Institute or establish an internal auditing
  8. Mechanise the system to avoid errors of casting and small omissions or
  9. Employing staff that are qualified, of integrity and

Auditors interest in detection and prevention of errors and irregularities.

  1. The existence of errors and frauds may imply that the accounting system is not a reliable basis for financial statement preparation. As such the auditor can conclude that proper books of account have not been
  2. Too many errors and frauds also indicate that the internal control system is not operating as it is expected to. As such an auditor who had intended to place reliance on the controls and performance of compliance tests may have to change his approach to increase the detailed substantive tests. If he is to obtain relevant and reliable audit
  3. Errors and frauds if they are of sufficient magnitude and are not properly disclosed in financial statements could affect the true and fair view given by those financial statements with the possibility that the auditors conclusion might be wrong.

How ICS is used to prevent frauds:

  1. Management supervision:

This will serve to prevent frauds by boosting the awareness of senior employees who will     refrain from committing frauds by virtue of the constant review of activities.

Also the periodic review of Company operations makes it difficult or impossible for Company’s employees to perpetrate frauds: constant review of actual performance against    budget    will deter perpetration of errors and frauds.

In addition, management will prevent errors and frauds by supervising other controls such as division of duties within the accountancy departments, providing routine and automatic checks supplemented by the use of the internal audit function to continuously review the level of such internal checks.

b)                  Physical controls

The controls are used such that they limit access to Company’s portable, exchangeable, desirable assets, which would have been misused, for personal gains.

They work as follows:

  1. Use of strong locks or doors to limit access to Company’s assets.
  2. Use of cash registers to increase accountability and ensure all cash receipts are
  3. Use of pre-numbered documents kept under lock and key to avoid their misuse for personal gains and consequent misappropriation of Company’s assets.
  4. Use of closed circuit Tvs to warn off would be fraudulent individuals who will then keep       away                                from misappropriating the Company’s

All physical controls make it difficult to misuse the Company’s assets by limiting access.

c)                   Segregation of duties

Various duties are segregated to minimise chances of frauds by boosting automatic checks, accountability and supervision e.g. The employee receiving cash should not be the same one banking the cash collected. Authorisation and approval should not be in the hands of a person who will execute that duty. Recording should not be done by a person who authorised the transaction.

However, this segregation of duties should be done so that appropriate duties are given only to those with competence and necessary qualification to enforce such controls effectively.

d)                  Arithmetic and accounting controls

Proper recording of transactions according to the principles of Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) will prevent frauds such as manipulation of accounts.    Periodic balancing of entries, that is reconciliation, will boost  the awareness of accounting staff who may then refrain from committing frauds. It will also include the continuos review of monthly accounting statements which will serve to prevent frauds as exorbitant expenditure should be identified and investigated.

e)                  Personnel

Any ICS should be implemented by qualified, competent and efficient personnel as they are less likely to perpetrate frauds if they have such personal qualities. The Company’s employees should be motivated and properly remunerated – two features that serve well to prevent frauds. The careful selection of employees taking into account human qualities            (honesty and integrity) serve to prevent fraud as such virtues will increase the quality of the management team. Career development prospects will also be important factor in this regard.

f)                    Routine and automatic checks

This control will minimise frauds through:

  • Boosting  awareness   that   work   will   be   continuously checked.
  • Increasing accountability by reducing the possibilities of successful
  • Boosts the importance of being honest within the

g)                  Control of documents

Sensitive documents will be kept under lock and key and this serves as a deterrent measure against frauds because it limits access to assets that these documents represent. The documents should be serially numbered or pre-numbered to avoid their misuse and to monitor the movement of receipts and other documents.

Also controlled authorisation of the use of the documents makes fraudulent conversion much            harder for the aspiring criminal who will be forced to produce sophisticated plans in order to      overcome internal controls of the business.

h)                  Rotation of duties

This control works to prevent frauds by ensuring a sense of responsibility among the personnel to be rotated and also increasing visibility of their work to their supervisory management as an indirect check on the employee concerned. Additionally, he will also be checked by the person taking over from him which will additionally serve to prevent fraud.

How ICS is used to detect frauds:

Managerial supervision and reviews

During periodic reviews the management will possibly detect frauds through investigating     variances from planned performance. Variances are revealed through the comparison of      various             performance parameters. Such comparisons of related but independently prepared statistics should be an essential internal check procedure. Strong supervision will detect     frauds at their earliest stages.   The supervisors will check unfavourable or irregular performance in the work place and identify those situations which, if allowed to develop, may expose the Company to losses.

Physical controls

These may enable management to detect frauds. Some of these controls such as automatic bells, automatic alarm systems, closed circuit TV will reveal frauds during the process oftheir perpetration.

Segregation of duties

In the process of executing transactions frauds will be revealed by personnel checking their colleagues and this will be brought to the attention of the senior management. By segregating duties company personnel are made aware of their duties and responsibilities, they will be motivated to advise their supervisors as soon as irregularities are discovered, and not cover them hoping that they will pass without notice.

Rotation of duties

This is effective in detection of frauds because the personnel taking over from their colleagues will necessarily report existing irregularities if they wish not to be blamed forthem. This ensures that errors are discovered at early stages rather than when they are already advanced.

Routine and automatic checks

In so far as these are on a surprise basis, they may reveal frauds in their initial stages. The checks are made at a time least expected by the employees and they are caught unawares.

This lowers the possibility of initiating a fraud.

Compulsory leave

The period of absence can be used by the management to assess the volume of work in a particular position and through the report of   the employee temporarily working in that position any corrupt practice can be independently revealed.

Authorisation and approval

Authority limits are used to define the authority of an individual to execute or approve a specific transaction. If such authority is abused, then it is possible to identify who was responsible for any fraudulent conversion of frauds or misuse of assets that may have taken place.

Arithmetic and accounting controls

These are used to detect frauds as follows:

  1. Comparison of suppliers statements with the creditor’s ledger
  2. Reconciliation of bank statements with cash at bank
  3. Accounting entries which do not agree either with Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP)or reasonable situations differing from the expected or budgeted situation.
  4. Reconciliation of customer’s statements with debtor’s
  5. Reconciliation of control a/c’s to detailed ledger totals e. stores ledger.



Potential errors or irregularities

  1. Goods despatched without being invoiced. Services rendered without being invoiced, goods in transit or a consignment about not recognised in the books.
  2. Goods being sent to bad credit risk customers
  3. Overdue account without follow
  4. Invoicing errors; sales invoiced but not recorded in the
  5. The receipt of cash/cheques not being recorded including teeming and
  6. Cash sales not
  7. Improper crediting of debtors

Implications of the above errors

  1. Understated sales, wrong management accounts, loss of assets of company and accounts without true and fair
  2. Bad debts and loss of
  3. Increased incidents of bad
  4. Misstatement of sales and debtors, loss of money increased disputes with customers due to errors in
  5. Misappropriation of cash, exposure to theft and loss of interest due to delayed
  6. Misappropriation of readily realisable
  7. Unreliable records, increased incidents of bad debts, dispute and customers loss of

Preventive measures

  1. Sales orders should be pre-numbered so as to initiate audit trail and minimise disputes with customers Discounts are approved by the officer responsible. Pass order to credit department to assess the credit worthiness of the customer. The sales order is approved after goods are confirmed to be present in the Then despatch – raise documentation to evidence it. Despatch notes should be pre-numbered.
  2. Matching of all delivery and despatch notes by an independent
  3. Establish credit control department to examine Review long outstanding debts and investigate why payment was not made.
  4. Use pre-numbered sales invoices and issue invoices in sequence. Establish proper sales journals and debtors Checking invoices raised by clerks for arithmetic accuracy pricing, discounts allowed coding and cross referencing to the customer’s
  5. Opening mail is only by Managing Directors secretary in the presence of the Prepare a pre-list for all cheques received by mail.
    • Pre-numbered
    • For all money raised a receipt must be
    • Receipts entered should be
    • Regular bank
    • Compare pre listed cheques and pay-in-slips from the bank by an independent
  6. Pre-numbered cash sales
    • Restricting number of people who can handle
    • Filed of returns
    • Quantity
    • Supervision of cash
    • Encourage use of cheques or credit card
    • Surprise cash
    • Reconciliation and support
  7. Coding of customers


Types of frauds that become possible without controls.

  1.  Collusion between customers and sales invoicing departments controlled by
  2. sequential issue of delivery notes and independent check and despatch documentation to invoices.
  3. Failure to raise despatch documentation e. goods leave the premises without
  4. delivery notes.
  5. Improperly raised credit notes to cover misappropriation of cash and reduce customers
  6. Cashiers – teeming and Bank all monies collected and have a pay in slip as a proof of deposit.


Potential errors or irregularities

  • Liabilities being set up for goods that were not authorised or not
  • Liabilities incurred but not
  • Making payments without proper documents and
  • Misallocation of funds to the wrong general ledger
  • Goods being returned without being

Implications of the above errors

  • Loss of resources because of paying for goods never Unreliable records being kept.
  • Understatement of liabilities hence disputes with
  • Paying for services and goods not
  • Overstatement of expenses and
  • Misstatement of various expense and accounts that do not show the true and fair view.
  • Overstatement of Loss of receipts due to the company.

Preventive measures

  • Improve inspection procedures at goods inwards
    1. Specific employees should have authority and power for the requisition of goods.
    2. Requisitions should be serially
    3. Central buying system which ensures; buy in bulk discount, avoid clerical costs & small orders, know reliable suppliers, plan of Economic order quantity (EOQ) & lead
    4. Order should have delivery date and
    5. LPO serially
    6. Good received note should be serially
    7. Before payment of invoices take them for
  • Pre-numbered goods received (GRN)
    1. Matching of goods received note and suppliers
    2. Pre-numbered Local Purchase Order (LPO)
    3. Investigate unmatched GRN and LPO
  • Before approval original documents must be completed. Once payment is made stamp “PAID” on the
  • Code all expenses and or Use budgetary control measures.
  • Claims subject to numerical control. A genuine cheque can be presented for a second This is a collusion between employee and supplier. Cheques should be immediately despatched to the payee and never go back to anyone who had to do with it especially the cashier.


Cash payments

Best system is an imprest system where a fixed amount is assigned to a cashier and more is only given on production of vouchers paid. Advantages are:

  • Fixed amounts prevents escalation of amounts held so risk is kept
  • It is a self checking
  • Reconciliation of a petty cash book is made easier – regular surprise


Potential errors include:

  • Dummy Fraudulent double payment for workers.
  • Payments for work not done and unclaimed wages being
  • Occurrence of payroll errors: starters, leavers, rate changes, hours worked
  • Improper deductions being made or being
  • Inflation of the payroll in other

Implications of the above errors

  1. Over valuation of stocks using wrong labour cost – Loss of resources to services never rendered.
  2. Overstatement of
  3. Misstatement of various expense accountsWrong stock
  4. Making double payments to Complaints by employees.
  5. Unreliable
  6. Misstated expense and stock

Preventive measures

  1. Establish a Human Resources Management department to hire and fire and to regulate pay.
    • Have serially numbered
    • Clock cards and time sheets to record
    • Clock cards and time sheets should be approved before
    • Payroll approved by senior management
  1. Clock cards and time
  2. Document all deductions. Check documents against payment to ensure
  3. Monthly reconciliation of payroll by an independent


Other matters

  1. Maintenance of stock records should be performed by a person who does not have physical access to stock and is not involved in sales or purchases recording.
  2. Have segregated lockable
  3. Reconciliation of physical quantities of stock to records discrepancies should be referred to the highest level of authority and investigated
  4. Writing of damaged obsolete and slow moving stocks. Senior independent officer should do it based on available documentation
  5. Scrap and waste products; Budget estimated scrap and waste and reconcile to actual
  6. Concealment of theft by write


Authorisation and approval of capital expenditure Done by senior management and limits to authority. Major capital expenditure authority left to the board.

Accounting records.

Done by a person who has no access to the fixed assets and no responsibility for authorising sales or purchases.

Plant registers

Records on location and value of fixed assets.

Scrapping, sale or transfer of assets.

Highest level of management’s affair only on the basis of documentation that is properly approved.

  • Appropriate measure at all points of access into the
  • Reconciliation of plant points of access into the
  • Segregation of


  1. Authorisation of purchases and sales should be done by very senior level management and should have no connection with cash and custody of
  2. Maintain investment register; Done by clerks who has no access to documents of title and no authorisation for sale or
  3. Maintenance of records; Share transfer, rights issue, bonuses, dividends and interest capital
  4. Document of title; adequate custody must be maintained

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