The responsibilities of external auditors are not always well understood, especially with regard to the detection and reporting of fraud. When external auditors provide non-audit services to their audit clients, it is essential that the auditors make a clear distinction between their audit and non-audit responsibilities. Required: Describe the limitations of the external audit in relation to the detection and reporting of fraud

Limitations of the external audit – fraud

  •  Auditing standards require that auditors plan and perform their audits with a reasonable expectation of detecting fraud and error if they are material to the financial statements (ISA 240 ‗Fraud and Error‘).
  •  It is commonly believed that the purpose of the external audit is to detect, and report, fraud and error. The detection and reporting of such matters is secondary to forming an opinion on the financial statements.
  •  Material fraud is often very difficult to detect, however, and an auditor has not necessarily failed in his duty if he fails to detect such a fraud.
  • Most frauds are small, and immaterial to the financial statements. If auditors detect frauds, they have a duty to report such matters to the management of the company regardless of whether they are material or immaterial. Only matters that are material need to be reported in the financial statements.
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