News April 2022 Sanctions against Deloitte LLP and John Charlton

Sanctions against Deloitte LLP and John Charlton

21 April 2022
The Executive Counsel of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has issued a Final Decision Notice under the Audit Enforcement Procedure and imposed sanctions against Deloitte LLP (Deloitte) and John Charlton, Audit Engagement Partner (together, the Respondents), in relation to the statutory audit of the financial statements of Mitie Group plc (the Company), for the financial year ended 31 March 2016 (the Audit).

The following sanctions have been imposed:
 
Deloitte:
  • A financial sanction of £2 million, adjusted for admissions / early disposal to £1,450,000; Non-financial sanctions, including:
  • a requirement to report to the FRC on the impact of remedial actions taken by Deloitte since 2016 on audits of goodwill;
  • a Severe Reprimand; and
  • a declaration that the audit report did not satisfy the Relevant Requirements.
 
Mr Charlton:
  • A financial sanction of £65,000 adjusted for mitigating factors and admissions / early disposal to £40,056.25;
  • a Severe Reprimand; and
  • a declaration that the audit report did not satisfy the Relevant Requirements.
 
Deloitte and Mr Charlton both admitted breaches of Relevant Requirements relating to their audit of the Company’s impairment testing of goodwill in the Healthcare Division.  
 
The FY2016 financial statements attributed £465.5m to the value of goodwill - the single largest asset figure in the balance sheet and 37.5% of the total reported assets. Reported goodwill in the Healthcare Division amounted to £107.2m (23% of the Company’s total carried goodwill in FY2016).
 
Recoverability of the goodwill in the Healthcare Division was identified by Deloitte as a significant risk for the Audit and was also identified in the audit report as one (of two) assessed risks of material misstatement.  It was clearly an area that required robust and rigorous audit work.
 
Despite being aware of the significant risk, the Respondents failed to obtain sufficient audit evidence to gain appropriate comfort regarding the future cashflows and the discount rate used in the impairment model; failed to give sufficient consideration to the impact of working capital; failed to exercise sufficient professional scepticism; failed adequately to document their audit work in relation to the discount rate; and allowed inadequate disclosures and incomplete statements to be included in the auditor’s report.
 
Due to the Respondents’ breaches, the FY2016 financial statements contained a material uncorrected misstatement or misstatements in relation to the headroom and/or carrying amount of the Healthcare Division.   If the Respondents had complied with the Relevant Requirements, goodwill in the Company’s Healthcare business might well have been treated as impaired as at the end of FY2016 and deficiencies in the disclosures about Healthcare goodwill would have been detected. 
 
The Executive Counsel recognises, however, that:
 
  • the breaches relate to one audit year;
  • the breaches only relate to one part of the Audit;
  • there is no suggestion that the breaches were intentional, dishonest or reckless; and
  • there was no financial benefit to the Respondents, aside from the payment of the audit fee to Deloitte.
 
The financial sanctions have been discounted by 27.5% to reflect the stage at which admissions were made.
 
The Executive Counsel has allowed a further 15% reduction for mitigation in relation to Mr Charlton to reflect his constructive response to the AQR inspection and follow-on investigation, including:  
  • taking active remedial steps to enhance his skills and developing a more challenging mindset to his own audit work; 
  • mentoring and coaching Deloitte audit teams on his experience and learnings from the FY2016 Audit; and
  • helping to develop firm-wide improvements to the quality of audits. 
 
Claudia Mortimore, Deputy Executive Counsel, said:

“It is vital that audit work in relation to the carrying amount of goodwill is conducted properly and the disclosures are sufficient to enable investors to understand the position and have confidence in the numbers included in the financial statements.  Deloitte has accepted that there were deficiencies in its audit work of goodwill in Mitie’s FY2016 financial statements.  Since 2017, Deloitte has introduced a number of initiatives seeking to improve the quality of audit work related to goodwill and impairment.  In addition to the financial sanction, Deloitte is required to report to the FRC on the efficacy of the initiative and, importantly, to provide empirical evidence as to whether they are leading to improvements in quality.”

 
A link to the Final Decision Notice is available here.