The reporting of the financial results of an organisation is the responsibility of the management of that organisation. However, value may be added to the financial statements by the auditing of such financial statements and by the opinion expressed by the external auditors. Furthermore, there is the expectation on the part of the users of the financial statements that the auditors are also responsible for detecting fraud and, more specifically, financial statement fraud. It was stated in the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners 2010 Report to the Nations that it is the high-level perpetrators who cause the greatest damage to their organisations. The costs arising from financial statement fraud were found to be more than three times higher than the costs arising from fraud committed by lower-level managers and nine times more than the costs involved in employee fraud.
The question, thus, arises as to why the auditors would not detect financial statement fraud timeously. The external audit profession has formulated a specific standard which addresses the responsibility of the external auditor as regards the detection of fraud during the audit of financial statements. The aim of this research was to determine the adequacy of the internal auditor standards as regards providing guidance to the internal auditors in terms of detecting financial statement fraud.
This research highlighted the lack of guidance in the internal audit standards regarding the responsibility of internal auditors relating to financial statement fraud. In the main, both the directives and the guidance refer to fraud in general but not specifically to financial statement fraud and, thus, the professional internal auditor is forced to seek guidance outside of the internal audit standards as regards the detection of financial statement fraud.