The U.K. Financial Reporting Council (FRC) on Tuesday announced a reduced fine of 875,000 pounds (U.S. $1.15 million) against KPMG for audit failings in its work at bar chain Revolution Bars Group for the fiscal years ended 2015 and 2016.
The FRC’s initial fine of £1.25 million (U.S. $1.64 million) was adjusted for mitigating factors and admissions. Michael Neil Frankish, a former director at KPMG, was also fined a reduced £35,000 (U.S. $46,000).
KPMG was further reprimanded, ordered to declare its reports in respect to the Revolution audits did not meet relevant standards, and must report to the FRC its analysis on the cause of the breaches and how it will prevent a recurrence. The firm will also pay costs of the investigation.
The financial penalty against KPMG is the third to be handed down by the FRC in the past seven months. The Big Four audit firm in August was ordered to pay £13 million (then-U.S. $18 million) for “breaches of the principles of integrity and objectivity” in its advisory role regarding the 2011 sale of mattress company Silentnight to U.S. private equity firm HIG Capital and fined £3 million (then-U.S. $4.1 million) in January for audit failings at now-collapsed alcohol retailer Conviviality.
The details: KPMG’s accepted failures at Revolution related to three specific areas of its audits: supplier rebates and listing fees, share-based payments, and deferred taxation, according to the FRC. The deferred taxation failings were only for FY2016.
“The company’s financial statements for FY2015 and FY2016 contained various misstatements which had to be corrected, some of which arose from the three areas mentioned and some of which were material to the financial statements as a whole,” the FRC explained in a press release. “Consequently, the audits failed to achieve their principal objective of providing reasonable assurance that the financial statements were free from material misstatement.”
Revolution in its FY2017 and FY2018 financial statements disclosed restatements related to supplier rebates, share-based payments, and deferred taxation, the three areas flagged during the relevant audits by KPMG, the FRC stated in its final decision notice.
Frankish carried out the audits of Revolution’s financial statements from 2014 until he left KPMG in 2016, despite the fact he was not an audit engagement partner at the firm, the FRC noted. He signed the audit reports for FY2015 and FY2016 in his own name on behalf of KPMG.
The FRC said it determined the breaches “were not intentional, dishonest, deliberate or reckless, and that the respondents provided a good level of cooperation during the investigation.”
KPMG UK response: “We regret that aspects of our 2015 and 2016 audits of Revolution Bars Group fell short of required standards,” a company spokesperson said. “Our firm is committed to dealing with, and learning from, our historic cases. We have fully cooperated with the FRC throughout their investigation.
“We continue to invest significantly in our business, taking action to address the FRC’s findings, and have made significant improvements to our audit procedures through our audit quality transformation program, including in respect of supplier rebates, share-based payments, and deferred tax.”