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Jenny Tenterfield spent the 30th June performing inventory observation procedures. This included taking test measurements at a client's grain storage tower in a small regional town. Jenny had measured grain inventories on two previous audits and was the in-charge accountant on this audit.
Jenny's observations of the quantity of the grain fell 10% below the client's records. Jenny's attention was drawn to the discrepancy between the two measurements of what was in the tower because, in her judgment, such a gap was significant enough to be material. The resulting difference between the inventory as reported by the client and the audited amount was enough to cause a significant drop in net income. Jenny documented her findings in the working papers and proposed an adjusting entry for the difference.
After further investigation Jenny found that a discrepancy in the grain inventory had occurred two months previously. The quantity of the grain inventory as reported by a government inspector at the time was also lower than that on the client's records. The difference on the inventory valuation, however was not as great as that in Jenny's test. No adjustment to the client's records had been made at that time. This information was included in the working papers.
Before discussing the discrepancy with the client, Jenny told Greg, the engagement partner, about the problem. Greg, who had substantial experience in the industry, advised Jenny that this would be a sensitive issue with the client. He also pointed out that the grain inventories are notoriously difficult to measure, with the potential errors as large as 10%. Greg promised that he would handle the matter personally and therefore told Jenny not to discuss the matter with the client. The partner kept the inventory working papers.
After completion of the field work, Jenny returned to the office to wrap up her work on the engagement. The inventory working papers were still not in the file. Upon Jenny's enquiry the partner handed her a new set of working papers. These working papers which had been dated as at the audit date had been signed off by Greg and substantiated the book amount. Jenny's subsequent questioning of the partner revealed that Greg had personally performed additional work on the grain inventory after the client's year–end. Based on his own evidence gathering the partner had substituted his own working papers for the documentation that Jenny had prepared. No evidence remained of Jenny's proposed adjustments. An unmodified opinion was subsequently issued.
What should Jenny do? Use the Accounting and Professional Ethical Standards and one of the ethical decision models presented in your text to help you answer the question.
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The International Accounting Ethics Standard Board ethics framework is made with respect to the development of ethical education. In this case, I would be looking at the importance of the ethics framework in the professional career of an accountant.
The Framework consists of four stages as follows:
Ethical knowledge consists of the various types of ethical concepts and ethical theories that accountants need to understand in order to tackle them in an efficient during their professional life. (Kaplan Financial, 2012)
The above stage is present in order to enable the accountants to recognize various instances of ethical threats and use their ethical knowledge in their professional life.
In the above stage, accountants can use both their knowledge and sensitivity in order to make good decisions.
In the above stage, it helps the accountants the importance of behaving in an ethical manner with respect to the knowledge, sensitivity that they possess and the decision that they made. (Kaplan Financial, 2012)
The following are some of the frameworks which are used for ethical decision making:
American Accounting Association Model (AAA):
The AAA model consists of 7 steps with the help of which an ethical decision can be made.
Tucker's 5-Question Model:
The model is normally used to test to know whether the ethical decision made is the right decision or not.
Laura Nash Model:
The model takes the help of 12 steps in order to capture the various perspectives before making an ethical decision. (Nash, 2011)
In the above case, I would use the AAA model which consists of 7 steps which would help me to make an ethical decision.
Step 1: Facts of the Case (yeungcoey, 2013)
The fact in this particular case is that the accountant Jenny is responsible for observing the quantity of grain at one of her client's grain storage tower. However, while observing the quantity of grain, the accountant has observed that there is some discrepancy in the quantity of grain reported by the client and the quantity of grain which is actually present. The amount of discrepancy which is observed has the capability to affect the net income of the client. The observations made by Jenny accordingly in the working paper were changed later by her engagement partner Greg while submitting the reports. Hence, Jenny feels that the report submitted by Greg with respect to the inventory status is not accurate and he is trying to protect the client in an unethical manner.