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UK accounting watchdog checks on coronavirus fallout on audits

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02/16/2020 | 06:53pm EDT
Clocks in London's Canary Wharf financial centre strike 07:00 GMT, marking the time the polls open for Britain's general election, London

Accounting firms should do all they can to obtain information needed to complete audits of multinational client companies that risk being delayed due to the coronavirus epidemic in China, Britain's accounting watchdog said on Sunday.

Companies face statutory deadlines for publishing audited financial statement, and delays creates nervousness among investors.

Global auditors like Deloitte, KPMG, EY and PwC audit the books on multinational companies, some of which have operations in China, where the coronavirus emerged.

Audit partners from outside China face restrictions on travel to the country even though they may need to visit operations for making checks. One way to work around this would be to hire auditors in China.

"The group auditor has to decide what alternative ways they can get the necessary evidence to complete the audit," a spokesman for the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said on Sunday.

Companies around the world have warned that the coronavirus outbreak in China could disrupt supply chains or hurt their profits as factories and shops shut and airlines suspend flights.

Sky News first reported on the FRC's intervention.

The watchdog can also ask listed companies to spell out material risks from coronavirus to their operations and ability to stay in business.

(Reporting by Huw Jones)

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