Last week, just days after Tongaat Hulett released a summary of the results of PWC’s investigation into allegations of malpractice, Woolworths held a teleconference to explain to the media and analysts the dramatic and unwieldy implications of the latest change in the International Financial Reporting Standards. The two events are tangentially related.

The Tongaat report puts the accounting profession, including auditors, firmly back in the dock — a place from which it has rarely been absent in the past few years. One of the report’s key findings is that certain senior executives initiated or participated in “undesirable accounting practices”, which resulted in profits and assets being overstated...

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