We know there was a dinner at the home of the Chairman of the SC in Taman Bukit Pantai, KL, where the guests were the MD of PwC, Mr Chin Kwai Fatt and an Executive Director of the same firm, a Mr Manohar Benjamin Johnson.
We know that the same Mr Manohar Benjamin Johnson was later appointed as the "number 2" in the Audit Oversight Board, as the Director.
We have here a curious case, in which a Director from the largest Audit Firm in the country was appointed to basically run the oversight body which is responsible for overseeing all Auditors of Public Interest Entities, including the firm that had employed him prior to the appointment, in that they fulfill the 'fit' and 'proper' criteria, and also to protect the interests of investors by promoting confidence in the quality and reliability of audited financial statements of PIEs.
The Audit Oversight Board (AOB) comes into action on the 1st of April, and we also know that the amendment to legalise the collection of fees for the registration of Auditors only comes into effect on the 15th of April, and we also know that the forms necessary for an application to be fully submitted are also only ready around the 14th of April.
Yet we see that the firm from which the Director had come was registered on the 1st of April itself, which begs the question of what manner of assessment and checking with the relevant regulatory bodies was done.
And since the registration of this firm, the largest in the country, and which handles the audits of more than one PIE, to put it mildly, is itself suspect, in what way has the AOB protected the interests of investors by promoting confidence in the quality and reliability of audited financial statements of PIEs?
The need for the AOB arose from events that have captured headlines time and again for more than a decade.
The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis showed the lack of corporate governance mechanisms in our country, and highlighted the weaknesses of our institutions.
The spectacular failures of Enron, Worldcom and the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen internationally, and our own local Transmile, Mega Media and others have clearly shown the necessity and definite need for a totally Independent, and World Class Audit Oversight Board.
Do we need more headlines and more investors being taken for a ride before we take the question of corporate governance 100% seriously, in talk as well as in action?