- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Financial statements are prepared by the management of a company for the usage of various stake holders. These financial statements indicate the state of the financial well-being of the company. They are usually the window into a company’s financial affairs available to the average investor, and sometimes the only information available to banks and other institutional investors. Consequently, potential investors and other stakeholders rely on these financial statements to assess the type of dealing they could have with the company. An accurate assessment of a company could only be carried out if the financial statements are accurate. Recent events, particularly the sudden collapse of companies with very healthy financial statements, have showed that most financial statements are not prepared in line with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and accounting standards. In the past and up till now in most jurisdictions, when a company fails or when it is realized that published financial statements are not accurate, it is usually the auditors who are the first to be accused or blamed. The accusation is usually that auditors actively participated in developing or concealing the activities that led to the misstatement or inaccuracy in the financial statements. Recent developments tend to widen the scope of these accusations. For instance, there is the increasing realization that since management has primary responsibility for the preparation and distribution of financial statements, most of these inaccuracies is a result of their deliberate action or inaction. Similarly, it is being realized that auditors as outsiders, find it difficult to detect inaccuracies deliberately introduced and ingeniously concealed in financial statements by management. This has led to the clamour for a greater responsibility and liability to be imposed on management. Financial reporting (FR) is intended to serve a number of user groups with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests, such as shareholders (present and prospective), creditors, lenders, labour leaders, and governments. A number of perspectives are, therefore, associated with FR but all tilt towards magnifying its importance in resolving the principal-agent conflict occasioned by asymmetric information available to the two parties. One perspective considers FR as the way by which managers of organizations give account of their stewardship to their owners and other stakeholders (Van Tendeloo & Vanstraelon, 2014). Others consider FR as: the production and communication of information to shareholders and all other users who have interest in an organization (Olaolye, 2010); the provision of information that is useful in making business and economic decisions, the objective been affected by the economic, legal, political and social environment in which FR takes place (Belkaoui, 2011); and the provision of information about the reporting entity’s financial performance and financial position that is useful to a wide range of users for assessing the stewardship of the entity’s management and for making economic decisions (IASB, 2010). The IASB (2010) dedicates one of the objectives of FR to the information needs of present and potential investors about the reporting entity’s financial performance and financial position that is useful to them in evaluating the entity’s ability to generate cash, and in assessing the entity’s financial adaptability. In the present age of scams, financial statement fraud represents huge value of cost to the economy globally. Collapses of high status corporations have left a dirty smear on the effectiveness of company governance, quality of financial/economic reports, and credibility of audit functions. An exponential increase in the use of technology has further aggravated the problem in 21st century and provides opportunities for crimes to be committed across borders. It has become a vital issue within the businesses world that has significantly; dampen the confidence and hope of the investors. The deliberate misstating of numbers in the accounting books with the help of well – planned scheme by an intelligent squad of knowledgeable perpetrators so as to deceive the capital market participants is termed as financial statement fraud.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigeria is one of Africa’s most important capital markets. And like in most African countries, it has been plagued with bad corporate governance. One of the manifestations of the bad corporate governance is fraudulent financial reporting. There have been various responses to the problem through the enactment of various corporate governance codes such as the Code of Corporate Governance in Nigeria 20043, the Code of Corporate Governance for Nigerian Banks post consolidation 20046, the Code of Conduct for Shareholders’ Associations in Nigeria 2007, and the Code of Corporate Governance in Nigeria 2011. . Also the Companies and Allied Maters Act 1990 (CAMA) and the 2007 Investment and Securities Act made specific provisions to strengthen corporate governance of public companies in Nigeria. These codes and statutes did not impose any overt civil and criminal liabilities on the management of companies. Though these responses may have had some salutary effects, they have failed in the main to ensure good corporate governance. The import of the foregoing is to highlight the importance of FR and also exude the need for financial reports that are useful but not misleading in material ways, reports that are prepared in line with accepted fundamental ethics and guidelines applicable to all accountants to enable them carry out their professional duties credibly. However, the wave of financial statements fraud (FSF) exemplified by reported cases such as Enron, Tyco, Quest, and Global Crossing in the US, Olympus Corporation in Japan, and Cadbury Plc and Access Bank Plc in Nigeria, has renewed interest on why companies engage in financial statement misrepresentations and the accompanying Effects.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the causes and effects of financial statement fraud in Nigeria’s corporate institutions. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the extent of financial statement fraud in Nigeria.
2. To examine the causes and effects of financial statement fraud in corporate institutions.
3. To examine how the causes and effects of financial statement fraud affects the financial performance of an organization.
4. To examine how to detect the financial statement fraud in corporate institutions.
5. To examine the relationship between financial statement fraud and financial performance of a corporate institution.
6. To suggest possible solutions for improving the audit process in the areas of detecting financial statement fraud.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the level of financial statement fraud in Nigeria?
2. What are the causes and effects of financial statement fraud in corporate institutions?
3. Will the causes and effects of financial statement fraud affect the financial performance of an organization?
4. What are the ways on how to detect the financial statement fraud in corporate institutions?
5. What is the relationship between financial statement fraud and financial performance of a corporate institution?
6. What are the possible solutions for improving the audit process in the areas of detecting financial statement fraud?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: The causes and effects of financial statement fraud do not have significant effect on the financial performance of an organization.
H1: The causes and effects of financial statement fraud do have significant effect on the financial performance of an organization.
H0: There is no significant relationship between financial statement fraud and financial performance of corporate institutions.
H1: There is a significant relationship between financial statement fraud and financial performance of corporate institutions.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is that this work will be beneficial to investors, shareholders and other interest members of the public as they will be able to know the extent of controlling and preventing of fraud that existing in their company. The significance of this study to banking industry and society at large cannot be over emphasized at least to probe into causes, effects and solutions to the incessant fraud practices in banks. The study findings will be a referral point in policy formulation on fraudulent activities on corporate institutions in general. It will also be beneficial to investors, donors and other sectors of the economy other than the banking sector. The findings of this study will add wealth of knowledge to the academic community hence stimulate further research with regards to fraud in corporate institutions.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the causes and effects of financial statement fraud in Nigeria’s corporate institutions: Evidence from FCMB, Anambra state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Financial statement: Financial statements are reports prepared by a company’s management to present the financial performance and position at a point in time. A general-purpose set of financial statements usually includes a balance sheet, income statements, statement of owner’s equity, and statement of cash flows.
Fraud: Wrongful deception with the intent to gain personally or financially or Intentional deception in order to persuade another person to part with something of value. A person who pretends to be something or someone he is not. Fraud takes place when a person deliberately practices deception in order to gain something unlawfully or unfairly.
Corporate Institutions: Establishment, foundation, or organization created to pursue a particular type of endeavour, such as banking by a financial institution. Consistent and organized pattern of behaviour or activities (established by law or custom) that is self-regulating in accordance with generally accepted norms.