President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday emphasised on the accountability of auditors in cases of white collar crimes. Addressing the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Kovind said that when white-collar crimes happen, it would be relevant to ask if those responsible for auditing balance sheets have truly done their duty.
“As professionals, it is your legitimate right to advise your clients on tax planning. However, there is a fine line between intelligent tax planning – and tax dodging and tax evasion. Chartered accountants are custodians of that fine line,” Kovind said.
Kovind’s statements hold importance as numerous banks have faced loan defaults and fraudulent transactions, most recent being the infamous Nirav Modi who defrauded the Punjab National Bank with over Rs 12,000 crore. Then finance minister Arun Jaitley had also held regulators and auditors responsible for the fraud at Punjab National Bank.
“When banking scandals take place when large borrowers abscond and leave their banks in the lurch, it represents a breach of faith. It amounts to a betrayal of not only corporate ethics but of honest fellow citizens and of our collective value system,” Kovind added.
“When such episodes occur, it would be in order to introspect. It would be relevant to ask if those responsible for auditing balance sheets have truly done their duty – or if they have contributed to the sorry situation,” Kovind told chartered accountants gathered on the occasion.
Referring to white-collar crimes, he also said that with such episodes, vulnerable citizens such as poor and the middle class or the retired could lose their savings. “A family’s plans for a cherished occasion, such as a wedding, or for a child’s education could suffer,” he added. Kovind said there has been a sustained effort to formalise the economy, enforce rule of law, promote transparency in financial and business transactions, and make India much more of a tax compliant society.
(with inputs from PTI)