Seminar Nasional “Fraud Audit dan Penegakan Good Governance di Indonesia”

SEMINAR NASIONAL
“FRAUD AUDIT DAN PENEGAKKAN GOOD GOVERNANCE DI INDONESIA”

LATAR BELAKANG
Skandal keuangan dan akuntansi yang terjadi di berbagai negara telah mendorong ketidakpercayaan publik terhadap penegakan good governance. Berbagai usaha telah dilakukan untuk menegakkan praktik good governance. Di Amerika misalnya, skandal yang terjadi telah mendorong regulator untuk mengeluarkan Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2003 dan Public Company Accounting Oversight Board guna memperbaiki good governance. Isu good governance tidak hanya menyangkut perusahaan berorientasi laba tetapi juga menyangkut institusi non-profit termasuk organisasi pemerintah.
Skandal serupa juga ditemui di Indonesia. Bahkan, publik menyaksikan secara gamblang berbagai tindak kecurangan yang terjadi seperti korupsi, kolusi dan nepotisme. Tidak mengherankan jika Indonesia telah dinobatkan sebagai salah satu dari tiga besar negara terkorup di Asia, berdasarkan hasil riset The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) pada tahun 2008. Terkait dengan predikat yang disandangnya tersebut, pemerintah Indonesia dan aparat terkait lainnya dewasa ini sedang giat-giatnya melakukan berbagai upaya dalam rangka memberantas korupsi, kolusi dan nepotisme. Pada era keterbukaan saat ini, stakeholders yang semakin kritis juga menuntut pemerintah dan lembaga terkait mampu mengungkap berbagai kecurangan (fraud) yang merebak di berbagai institusi di Indonesia.
Pengalaman menunjukkan bahwa berbagai kasus yang menghebohkan di Amerika Serikat yang terkenal dengan Enron gate, Worldcom gate dan lain-lain, terungkap antara lain berkat penggunaan fraud audit dalam teknik auditnya. Teknik audit konvensional seringkali sulit mendeteksi praktik kecurangan (fraud) di beberapa lembaga yang biasanya melibatkan pihak lain (collussion). Guna mencegah terjadinya fraud yang jelas-jelas merugikan banyak pihak, penegakan tata kelola yang baik (good governance) di berbagai institusi, baik pemerintah, perusahaan maupun lembaga non-profit lainnya menjadi suatu kebutuhan mendesak yang tidak dapat ditawar lagi. Namun demikian, banyak pihak yang belum memahami apa sebenarnya fraud audit? mengapa diperlukan? dan bagaimana perannya dalam menyingkap fraud dan menegakkan good governance di Indonesia? Oleh karena itu, Program Studi Magister Akuntansi Universitas Diponegoro dalam rangka launching Program S-2 Konsentrasi Akuntansi Forensik menyelenggarakan seminar bertema “Fraud Audit dan Penegakan Good Governance di Indonesia” Continue reading

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KPMG Business Outlook Survey February 2009

Industries 09 February 2009

The winter 2009 KPMG Business Outlook Survey, which surveys over 3,700 manufacturing firms across the EU, shows confidence in the sector has collapsed in the face of the global economic downturn. EU manufacturers’ confidence regarding the outlook for business activity over the next twelve months has retreated swiftly from six months’ earlier, with the net balance falling into negative territory for the first time since the survey began in January 2006. The latest net balance figure of -10.2 contrasts markedly with the high of +56.3 recorded two years ago, while the remaining ten survey variables all posted record lows and negative readings. Anecdotal evidence from the latest survey highlighted deteriorating economic conditions as the main threat to business revenues, along with a resulting downturn in orders. More

HARMONISASI STANDAR AKUNTANSI INTERNASIONAL: ANALISIS KRITIS DARI PERSPEKTIF ISLAM

by ANIS CHARIRI

ABSTRACT

Harmonisation of international accounting standard has stimulated a debate concerning the relevance of international accounting standards to the development of accounting in developing countries. It is claimed that such harmonisation is intended to increase comparability of financial reporting between companies from different countries. However, this paper argues that harmonisation is more concerned with hegemony of US accounting in the international arena. From the Islamic perspective, a number of international accounting standards seem to be in the contradiction with Islamic values. As accounting is practised in a certain environment, it is suggested that accounting standards should be developed based on unique characteristics of environment in which financial reporting practice takes place.


PENDAHULUAN

Sampai saat sekarang ini, negara barat masih gencar mempromosikan perlunya harmonisasi standar akuntansi internasional. Tujuan utama upaya tersebut adalah untuk meningkatkan daya banding (comparability) laporan keuangan terutama bagi perusahaan multinasional yang beroperasi di berbagai belahan dunia. Tidak mengherankan jika pihak barat membentuk suatu badan yang dinamakan International Accounting Standard Committee (IASC), yang sekarang berubah namanya menjadi International Accounting Standard Board (IASB). Badan ini bertugas menghasilkan standar akuntansi internasional (International Financial Reporting Standards-IFRS).

Meskipun keanggotaan badan tersebut melibatkan negara negara berkembang, negara barat/kapitalis seperti Amerika, Inggris, Kanada dan Australia tetap mendominasi konsep akuntansi dan standar akuntansi yang dihasilkan. Akibatnya, standar akuntansi tersebut umumnya didasari pada konsep ekonomi kapitalis yang kemungkinan bertentangan dengan kondisi sosial, ekonomi dan budaya negara berkembang dan khususnya ada yang bertentangan dengan nilai-nilai Islam. Tulisan ini dimaksudkan untuk menganalisis secara kritis upaya harmonisasi standar akuntansi internasional dari perspektif nilai-nilai Islam dan alternatif pendekatan untuk menghasilkan standar akuntansi yang bernuansa Islam.

STANDAR AKUNTANSI DAN HARMONISASI

Pada dasarnya standar akuntansi merupakan pengumuman atau ketentuan resmi yang dikeluarkan badan berwenang di lingkungan tertentu tentang pedoman umum yang dapat digunakan manajemen untuk menghasilkan laporan keuangan. Dengan adanya standar akuntansi, laporan  keuangan diharapkan dapat menyajikan informasi yang relevan dan dapat dipercaya kebenarannya. Standar akuntansi juga digunakan oleh pemakai laporan keuangan seperti investor, kreditor, pemerintah, dan masyarakat umum sebagai acuan untuk memahami dan menganalisis laporan keuangan sehingga memungkinkan mereka untuk mengambil keputusan yang benar. Dengan demikian, standar akuntansi memiliki peranan penting bagi pihak penyusun dan pemakai laporan keuangan sehingga timbul keseragaman atau kesamaan interpretasi atas informasi yang terdapat dalam laporan keuangan.

Secara garis besar ada empat hal pokok yang diatur dalam standar akuntansi. Yang pertama berkaitan dengan definisi elemen laporan keuangan atau informasi lain yang berkaitan. Definisi digunakan dalam standar akuntansi untuk menentukan apakah transaksi tertentu harus dicatat dan dikelompokkan ke dalam aktiva, hutang, modal, pendapatan dan biaya. Yang kedua adalah pengukuran dan penilaian. Pedoman ini digunakan untuk menentukan nilai dari suatu elemen laporan keuangan baik pada saat terjadinya transaksi keuangan maupun pada saat penyajian laporan keuangan (pada tanggal neraca). Hal ketiga yang dimuat dalam standar adalah pengakuan, yaitu kriteria yang digunakan untuk mengakui elemen laporan keuangan sehingga elemen tersebut dapat disajikan dalam laporan keuangan. Yang terakhir adalah penyajian dan pengungkapan laporan keuangan. Komponen keempat ini digunakan untuk menentukan jenis informasi dan bagaimana informasi tersebut disajikan dan diungkapkan dalam laporan keuangan. Suatu informasi dapat disajikan dalam badan laporan (Neraca, Laporan Laba/Rugi) atau berupa penjelasan (notes) yang menyertai laporan keuangan.

Keempat hal itulah yang diusahakan oleh negara barat untuk diharmonisasikan secara internasional. Mereka percaya bahwa harmonisasi standar akuntansi internasional akan meningkatkan daya banding laporan keuangan secara internasional, dapat menghemat biaya terutama bagi penyaji dan pemakai laporan keuangan, dan memperbaiki standar akuntansi nasional masing-masing negara (Turner 1983).

Sebagai respon atas kebutuhan harmonisasi standar akuntansi, berbagai upaya telah dilakukan oleh negara kapitalis. Salah satunya adalah dengan dengan mendirikan International Accounting Standard Committee (IASC) pada tahun 1973, yang sekarang berubah nama menjadi International Accounting Standard Board (IASB). Jumlah keanggotaan IASC sampai sekarang meliputi lebih dari 150 organisasi profesi akuntansi yang berasal dari negara maju dan berkembang, termasuk Indonesia. Tujuan utama badan ini adalah memformulasikan standar akuntansi yang dapat diterapkan secara internasional. Sampai sekarang IASB telah mengeluarkan lebih dari 50 standar akuntansi. Meskipun IASB berhak untuk menetapkan dan mengeluarkan standar akuntansi, badan tersebut tidak memiliki kekuatan hukum untuk memaksakan penerapan standar akuntansi yang dihasilkan.

STANDAR AKUNTANSI ANGLO-SAXON DAN NILAI-NILAI ISLAM

Meskipun IASB tidak memiliki power untuk mewajibkan semua negara menyusun laporan keuangan berdasarkan International Financial Reporting Standards, sampai saat ini badan tersebut dapat dikatakan sangat berpengaruh dalam proses harmonisasi. Hal ini tidak mengherankan karena negara-negara kapitalis terutama Amerika memainkan peranan penting dalam menghasilkan standar tersebut. Dengan kata lain, harmonisasi standar akuntansi internasional merupakan harmonisasi yang didasarkan pada model akuntansi Anglo-Saxon, tanpa memperhatikan dan mempertimbangkan sistem akuntansi, lingkungan ekonomi, sosial dan budaya negara lain (Hoarau 1995). Lebih lanjut Hoarau mengatakan bahwa standar yang dihasilkan sangat didominasi oleh konsep akuntansi yang dipraktikkan di USA. Dengan kata lain yang sekarang adalah upaya hegemoni Amerika dalam penyusunan laporan keuangan melalui standar akuntansi internasional.

Meskipun standar akuntansi yang dihasilkan IASB membahas pedoman yang kurang mendetail dan ruang lingkupnya terbatas bila dibandingkan dengan standar akuntansi versi USA (Statement of Financial Accounting Standards), IFRS tetap didasarkan pada konsep dan pendekatan akuntansi yang sama. Sebagai akibatnya, IFRS kemungkinan banyak bertentangan dengan tujuan pelaporan keuangan dan lingkungan social, ekonomi, dan budaya negara lain, terutama yang memiliki karakteristik yang berbeda dengan negara kapitalis. Lebih khusus lagi, standar yang dihasilkan banyak bertentangan dengan nilai-nilai Islam. Hal ini disebabkan konsep ekonomi kapitalis yang mendasari penyusunan standar akuntansi negara barat jauh berbeda dengan konsep ekonomi Islam.

Standar akuntansi yang dihasilkan model akuntansi Anglo-Saxon menganut paham yang mengakui adanya nilai waktu dari uang, yang menghasilkan konsep bunga. Sementara itu, Islam secara tegas menolak digunakannya nilai waktu dari uang dalam menjalankan kegiatan ekonomi. Hal ini disebabkan konsep tersebut sama artinya dengan riba, dan riba jelas dilarang dalam Islam. Riba dilarang dalam ajaran Islam karena riba menunjukkan ketidakadilan. Capra (1994) menyebutkan bahwa ketidakadilan tersebut muncul karena distribusi keuntungan yang didasarkan pada jumlah yang tetap, dapat merusak mekanisme harga dan menyebabkan alokasi sumber ekonomi yang mengarah pada penumpukan modal yang terpusat pada sekelompok orang tertentu.

Larangan terhadap riba memiliki implikasi tersendiri bagi harmonisasi standar akuntansi internasional. Sejauh ini standar akuntansi yang diterima secara internasional selalu mempertimbangkan faktor bunga, yang jelas dilarang dalam Islam (Hamid et al. 1993). Contoh standar akuntansi yang dihasilkan IASB (IASC) adalah akuntansi untuk sewa guna usaha/lease (IAS 17), Akuntansi Dana Pensiun (IAS 19 dan IAS 26), dan Akuntansi Kapitalisasi Cost Pinjaman (IAS 23). Standar tersebut pada dasarnya sama dengan standar akuntansi yang dikeluarkan Amerika melalui Financial Accounting Standar Board (FASB), seperti standar akuntansi Dana Pensiun (SFAS 87 dan 88), Amortisasi Hutang Jangka Panjang (Accounting Principles Board-APB 12), Bunga atas Piutang dan Hutang (APB 21), Leasing (SFAS 12), Resturkturisasi Hutang  (SFAS 15), Pelaporan Hutang Pensiun (SFAS 88) dan pelunasan Hutang (APB 26).

Masalah lain yang perlu diperhatikan adalah isu yang berkaitan dengan penilaian aktiva. Dalam akuntansi Anglo-Saxon, penilaian suatu aktiva terutama persediaan dan surat berharga umumnya dilandasi konsep konservatisme. Konsep ini mengakui rugi atau penurunan aktiva meskipun rugi atau penurunan tersebut  belum terealisasi. Sebaliknya, konsep tersebut menunda pengakuan pendapatan atau kenaikan nilai aktiva sampai pendapatan atau kenaikan nilai aktiva tersebut betul-betul sudah terealisasi. Konsekuensi dari konsep ini adalah digunakannya metode penilaian persediaan dan surat berharga jangka pendek berdasarkan pada nilai terendah antara cost dan harga pasar (lower cost or market). Sementara itu, untuk tujuan perhitungan zakat-yang merupakan salah satu tujuan pelaporan berbasis ajaran Islam-ajaran Islam menilai kedua jenis aktiva tersebut berdasarkan pada nilai bersih yang dapat direalisasi atau net realizable value (Gambling dan Karim 1991). Dengan demikian jelas bahwa Islam tidak mengakui adanya konsep nilai terendah di antara cost dan harga pasar, seperti yang digunakan dalam akuntansi kapitalis.

Masalah yang ketiga adalah aplikasi dari konsep kesinambungan (going concern). Pemakaian konsep ini memungkinakn digunakannya penilaian aktiva berdasarkan cost historis untuk menunjukkan obyektifitas pengukurannya. Atas dasar cost historis ini, nilai aktiva pada tanggal tertentu (tanggal neraca) akan sama dengan nilai aktiva pada tanggal pertama kali aktiva tersebut diperoleh. Alasan utama diterapkannya konsep going concern tersebut adalah: (1) untuk memungkinkan dilakukannya klasifikasi aktiva dan hutang menjadi kelompok lancar dan tidak lancar, (2) memungkinkan dilakukannya penandingan (matching) antara pendapatan dengan biaya.

Dari sudut pandang ajaran Islam, kedua alasan tersebut dapat dipertanyakan dan tidak relevan (Gambling dan Karim 1991). Dalam ajaran Islam, klasifikasi aktiva kedalam lancar dan tidak lancar pada dasarnya dimaksudkan untuk menentukan besarnya kekayaan yang akan digunakan dalam penentuan besarnya zakat. Aktiva lancar tersebut diharapkan dapat dikonsumsi, atau dijual untuk menghasilkan kas dalam periode waktu dimana zakat akan dikenakan atas kekayaan tersebut. Sementara aktiva tidak lancar, akan tetap ditahan atau disimpan pada periode di luar periode zakat tersebut (Abdel-Magid 1981). Atas dasar hal ini, laporan keuangan harus mampu menyajikan informasi mengenai aktiva, yang nantinya dapat digunakan sebagai dasar pengenaan zakat. Dengan demikian penilaian zakat akan menentukan metode penilaian aktiva. Metode yang tepat untuk menilai aktiva yang relevan dengan tujuan perhitungan zakat adalah net realizable value atau metode penilaian yang disarankan oleh Chambers (1966) yaitu continuously contemporary accounting (CoCoA).

Atas dasar metode CoCoA aktiva harus dinilai menurut nilai pasar pada tanggal neraca. Jadi setiap aktiva harus dapat dinilai secara individu, terpisah dari kekayaan perusahaan secara keseluruhan. Akibatnya, dalam konteks Islam tidak ada pengakuan aktiva seperti goodwill, karena goodwill tidak dapat dilihat bentuk wujudnya dan tidak dapat dinilai secara individu terpisah dari nilai perusahaan secara keseluruhan.

Hal lain yang bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam adalah penggunaan konsep economic substance over legal form. Model akuntansi Anglo-Saxon jelas memisahkan substansi ekonomi suatu transaksi dengan status hukum dari transaksi tersebut. Atas dasar konsep ini, jika suatu transaksi ditinjau dari substansi ekonominya memiliki kriteria sebagai elemen laporan keuangan (karena memenuhi definisi, dapat diukur, dan diakui dalam laporan keuangan), maka transaksi tersebut dapat diakui dalam laporan keuangan meskipun secara yuridis tidak boleh diakui. Contoh klasik adalah mesin yang disewa oleh perusahaan melalui kontrak capital lease. Apabila secara substansi ekonomi memenuhi kriteria sebagai aktiva (seperti diatur dalam standar), maka mesin yang disewa tersebut dapat diakui sebagai harta kekayaan si penyewa dan dilaporkan dalam neraca sebagai harta milik penyewa. Namun demikian, dari aspek yuridis mesin tersebut tetap menjadi harta pemilik bukan penyewa. Konsep ini, jelas bertentangan dengan konsep pemilikan dalam ajaran Islam (Karim 1995).

Atas dasar perbedaan sudut pandang di atas, maka cukup rasional untuk mengatakan bahwa akuntansi seharusnya dikembangkan sesuai dengan kondisi lingkungan dimana akuntansi tersebut akan dipraktikkan. Praktik akuntansi kapitalis, jelas tidak semuanya dapat dipraktikkan di lingkungan yang bernafaskan Islam karena konsepnya jelas berbeda dan banyak yang bertentangan.

STANDAR AKUNTANSI ISLAM: MUNGKINKAH?

Nothing is impossible-Tidak ada yang tidak mungkin. Apabila kita telusur kembali ke Al-Qur’an, dapat ditarik kesimpulan bahwa Allah SWT menghendaki perlunya pertanggung jawaban yang benar dalam kegiatan bisnis. Surat Al-Baqarah ayat 282-283 adalah ayat utama yang berkaitan dengan proses catat mencatat (akuntansi) dalam kegiatan bisnis. Pada intinya ayat tersebut mengajarkan kepada manusia agar kegiatan bisnis dilakukan sesuai dengan konsep kejujuran, keadilan dan kebenaran.

Senada dengan apa yang terdapat dalam ayat tersebut, Scott seperti yang dikutip oleh Salmonson (1969) menyarankan bahwa keadilan, kebenaran dan kejujuran adalah konsep yang tepat dalam menentukan standar akuntansi. Lebih lanjut Scott mengatakan bahwa standar akuntansi adalah pernyataan umum yang mengkaitkan aturan (pedoman) dan prosedur akuntansi dengan konsep sosial. Dalam hal ini,  Scott mengajukan tiga prinsip utama sebagi berikut.

  1. Keadilan: prosedur akuntansi dimaksudkan untuk menghasilkan perlakuan yang sama terhadap semua kepentingan, dalam situasi keuangan yang direfleksikan oleh berbagai rekening
  2. Kebenaran: laporan akuntansi harus menyajikan informasi yang akurat dan benar
  3. Kejujuran: prosedur akuntansi harus adil, tidak bias dan tidak bersifat sebagian

Lebih lanjut, Scott berpendapat bahwa prosedur akuntansi akan berubah karena perubahan kondisi lingkungan, tetapi bukan berubah secara arbitrer hanya karena dimaksudkan untuk memenuhi tujuan yang menguntungkan pihak tertentu saja.

Jadi pada dasarnya, kondisi lingkunganlah yang sebenarnya menentukan jenis dan isi standar akuntansi. Hopwood, et al. (1994, p. 228) berpendapat bahwa akuntansi tidak dapat dipisahkan dan dianalisis sebagai praktik yang terpisah dari budaya, kebiasaan, norma dan aturan lainnya. Dalam suatu lingkungan tertentu, individu-individu dalam suatu komunitas akan membentuk suatu budaya. Teori akuntansi adalah bagian dari kepribadian dan oleh karenanya merupakan bagian dari budaya (Gambling dan Karim 1986). Hal ini disebabkan akuntansi adalah realitas yang terbentuk secara sosial melalui interaksi individu dengan lingkungannya (Hines 1988; Miller 1994; Morgan 1988; Munro 1998; Neimark and Tinker 1986). Jika individu-individu tersebut adalah muslim, kepribadian mereka seharusnya kepribadian Islam dan budaya mereka seharusnya budaya Islam. Dengan demikian, teori akuntansi yang dirumuskan seharusnya teori-teori yang mampu menghasilkan standar akuntansi yang sesuai dengan ajaran Islam.

Hayashi (1994) juga berpendapat bahwa standar akuntansi ala Islam sebenarnya dapat dikembangkan, karena akuntansi model Islam lebih bersifat responsif terhadap kebutuhan masyarakat. Lebih lanjut, dia mengatakan bahwa laporan keuangan yang disajikan dalam kerangka Islam, sebenarnya dapat memberikan informasi penting yang diperlukan masyarakat terutama yang berkaitan dengan perhitungan zakat. Dengan demikian, standar akuntansi yang bercirikan Islam adalah memungkinan untuk dikembangkan.

Kebutuhan akan standar akuntansi yang bercirikan Islam merupakan hal yang tidak dapat dipisahkan dari perkembangan ekonomi Islam. Munculnya kembali pemikiran-peikiran tentang ekonomi Islam dan makin meningkatnya persatuan sesama muslim dalam kegiatan politik dan ekonomi dapat dikatakan sebagai kekuatan utama perkembangan ekonomi di negara-negara Islam termasuk berkembangnya bank-bank Islam (Abdel-Magid 1981). Perkembangan tersebut pada intinya dapat mengarah pada penciptaan lingkungan ekonomi dan pasar yang seragam sesuai dengan nilai-nilai Islam. Akibatnya, lingkungan pelaporan keuangan perusahaan di negara-negara Islam akan ditandai dengan kekuatan politk, ekonomi, sosial dan budaya yang berbeda dengan negara-negara barat. Oleh karena kekuatan tersebut dapat mempengaruhi tujuan dan format pelaporan keuangan, kebutuhan untuk memiliki standar akuntan yang bernafaskan Islam merupakan suatu keharusan. Langkah yang dapat dilakukan dalam menyusun standar akuntansi Islam, dapat dijelaskan di bawah ini.

Langkah utama yang perlu dilakukan, tentunya upaya untuk membentuk dan mempraktikkan sistem ekonomi yang sesuai dengan ajaran Islam. Hal ini disebabkan sistem tersebut akan mempengaruhi tujuan pelaporan keuangan dan tujuan ini akan berpengaruh terhadap isi dari standar akuntansi yang akan dihasilkan.

Yang kedua, harus dinyatakan dengan tegas tujuan dari pelaporan keuangan. Tentunya, tujuan tersebut berbeda sekali dengan tujuan pelaporan keuangan model Anglo-Saxon yang lebih mengutamakan kepentingan investor. Atas dasar sistem ekonomi Islam, laporan keuangan yang dihasilkan harus mampu menyakinkan pemakai laporan bahwa perusahaan telah melaksankan kegiatannya sesuai dengan prinsip-prinsip Islam (Karim 1990). Laporan keuangan harus mampu menyajikan informasi yang dapat mendorong pelaku ekonomi untuk berbuat adil, jujur dan benar, serta mampu menyajikan informasi lain seperti informasi untuk dasar perhitungan zakat. Tujuan yang lain mungkin dapat diadopsi dari tujuan yang diterapkan di negara barat selama tujuan tersebut tidak bertentangan dengan syariat Islam.

Langkah ketiga adalah menentukan kualitas informasi yang dihasilkan. Jelas bahwa kualitas informasi yang dihasilkan haruslah relevan, dapat diuji kebnarnnya, tepat waktu dan karakteritik kualitatif lain yang diterapkan di negara barat yang konsisten dengan tiga hal pokok yang diajukan Scott (dalam Salmonson 1969) yaitu: kebenaran, kejujuran dan keadilan.

Atas dasar ketiga langkah di atas, akhirnya standar akuntansi dapat dikembangkan. Hal ini dilakukan dengan memformulasikn kembali definisi masing masing elemen laporan keuangan. Kemudian, metode pengukuran dan penilaian elemen laporan keuangan harus disesuaikan dengan model penilaian yang sesuai dengan ajaran Islam, misalnya CoCoA seperti yang disarankan oleh Chambers (1966).

Yang keempat adalah menentukan kriteria yang digunakan mengakui elemen laporan keuangan sehingga elemen tersebut dapat disajikan sesuai dengan syariat Islam. Yang terakhir adalah memformulasikan metode yang tepat untuk mengungkapkan semua informasi yang berkaitan dengan kegiatan bisnis perusahaan. Mengingat pengungkapan informasi merupakan faktor penting dalam menciptakan laporan keuangan yang berkualitas, aspek pengungkapan ini harus berpegang pada ketiga prinsip dasar yaitu, kejujuran, kebenaran dan keadilan.

Upaya di atas tentu saja bukan suatu hal yang mudah dilakukan. Dalam mengembangkan standar akuntansi, proses yang terjadi dalam setiap tahap terebut mungkin menimbulkan pro dan kontra, karena masing-masing individu memiliki interpretasi yang berbeda terhadap aturan-aturan keagamaan (Karim 1995). Namun demikian harus diyakini bahwa model tersebut dapat dikembangkan walaupun membutuhkan waktu yang cukup lama. Kunci utamanya adalah bahwa perbedaan yang timbul haruslah diselesaikan dengan menggunakan referensi yang berbasis ajaran Islam bukannya menggunakan pendekatan teori akuntansi yang selama ini terus dimuati konsep akuntansi kapitalis. Waktu yang lama sebenarnya bukan kendala utama untuk mengembangkan standar akuntansi Islam. Kemauan dan niat utama untuk menyatukan pendapat dari berbagai pihak untuk mengembangkan standar akuntansi yang bercirikan Islam, merupakan kunci utama berhasil tidaknya pengembangan standar akuntansi yang sesuai dengan nilai-nilai Islam.

KESIMPULAN DAN IMPLIKASI PENELITIAN

Dari argumen di atas, dapat dilihat baha usaha harmonisasi standar akuntansi internasional mempuyai pengaruh yang kurang baik terhadap praktik bisnis yang sesuai dengan ajaran Islam. Upaya harmonisasi pada dasarnya merupakan upaya yang dilakukan negara barat untuk melakukan hegemoni praktik akuntansi di negara berkembang. Praktik tersebut cenderung “dipaksakan” karena negara tersebut memiliki banyak kepentingan di negara berkembang terutama berkaitan dengan keberadan perusahaan multinasional.

Oleh karena akuntansi adalah ilmu sosial yang dipengaruhi oleh nilai-nilai sosial ekonomi dan budaya di lingkungan di mana akuntansi akan dipraktikkan, maka suatu keharusan bagi muslin untuk mengembangkan sendiri standar akuntansi yang sesuai dengan syariat Islam. Kebutuhan tersebut bukannya merupakan suatu hal yang tidak mungkin. Dengan mengadopsi tahapan perumusan standar akuntansi yang telah dilakukan oleh negara-negara barat, sebenarnya standar akuntansi Islam dapat dikembangkan. Hal pokok yang ditekankan di sini aalah prinsip dasar yang harus digunakan dalam mengembangkan standar tersebut adalah nilai-nilai Islam. Tentunya, hal ini bukan hanya tugas akuntan. Pihak non-akuntan sebenarnya memiliki peranan penting karena mereka yang nantinya menggunakan informasi yang dihasilkan akuntan, sebagai dasar dalam pengambilan keputusan ekonomi.

Dari aspek penelitian, dapat dilihat bahwa penelitian akuntansi yang selama ini dilakukan sebenarnya dapat diarahkan pada penelitian yang berkaitan dengan aspek nilai-nilai Islam. Namun sayangnya, karena aspek dominasi pendekatan positivism yang mengharuskan semua variabel dapat dikuantifikasi, penelitian akuntansi yang mengarah pada kemungkinan penerapan praktik akuntansi Islam sulit untuk dilakukan. Konsekuensinya, agar praktik akuntansi berbasis Islam dapat dikembangkan, paradigma penelitian harus diubah ke arah paradigma kualitatif. Hal ini disebabkan pendekatan kualitatif mampu mengexplore nilai-nilai Islam yang relevan dengan praktik akuntansi dan nilai-nilai tersebut selama ini tidak tersentuh oleh paradigma positivism.

Akhirnya, standar akuntansi Islam sebenarnya dapat dikembangkan di Indonesia, kalau memang ada upaya ke arah itu. Namun, penentuan standar akuntansi merupakan pilihan sosial dan proses politik yang melibatkan kepentingan pihak-pihak tertentu. Sistem ekonomi yang berlaku di Indonesia dan model pendidikan akuntansi ikut menyuburkan perkembangan standar akuntansi yang berbasis kapitalis, jauh dari syariat Islam.

REFERENCES

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Chapra, M. U., 1994, “The Prohibition of Riba in Islam: an Evaluation of Some Objections”, The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 2

Gambling, T., dan Karim, R.A.A., 1986, “Islam and Social Accounting”, Journal of Business, Finance and Accounting, Vol. 13, No. 1, Spring

Gambling, T., dan Karim, R.A.A., 1991, Business and Accounting Ethics in Islam, London: Manshell

Hamid, S., Russell, C., dan Clarke, F., 1993, “Religion: a Confounding Cultural Element in the International Harmonization of Accounting?” Abacus, Vol. 29, No. 2

Hayashi, T., 1994, “On Islamic Accounting: Its Future Impact on Western Accounting: Book Review (by M. A. Khan)”, The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 11, No. 1., Spring

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Hoarau,C., 1990, “International Accountin Harmonization: American Hegemony or MutualRecognition with Benhmarks?”, The European Accounting Review, Vol. 4. No. 2, pp. 217-233.

Hopwood, A., S. Burchell, and C. Clubb. 1994. “Value-Added Accounting and National Economic Policy,” in Accounting as Social and Institutional Practice. A. Hopwood and P. Miller  (Eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp.211-236.

Karim, R.A.A., 1990, Standar Setting for the Financial Reporting of Religious Business Organisations: The Cases of Islamic Bank”, Accounting and Business Research, Vol. 20, No. 80, pp. 299-305

Karim, R.A.A., 1995, “The Nature and Rationale of a Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting by IslamicBanks”, Accounting and Business Research, Vol. 25, No. 100, pp 299-305

Miller, P. 1994. “Accounting as Social and Institutional Practice: An Introduction,” in Accounting as Social and Institutional Practice. A. Hopwood and P. Miller  (Eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.1-39.

Morgan, G. 1988. “Accounting as Reality Construction: Toward a New Epistemology for Accounting Practice.” Accounting, Organization and Society, 13:5, pp.477-485.

Munro, R. 1998. “Ethics and Accounting: The Dual Technologies of Self,” in Ethics and Organization. M. Parker  (Eds). London: Sage Publications, pp.197-220.

Neimark, M. and T. Tinker. 1986. “The Social Construction of Management Control Systems.” Accounting, Organization and Society, 11:4/5, pp.369-395.

Salmonson, R. F., 1969, Basic Financial Accounting Theory, Belmont-California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc.

Turner, J.N., 1983, “International Harmonisation: a Professional Goal”, Journal of Accountancy, January, pp. 58-59

THE RELEVANCE OF FORENSIC ACCOUNTING IN DETECTING FINANCIAL FRAUDS

By: ANIS CHARIRI

INTRODUCTION
Accounting has been perceived as a medium to provide useful information for economic decision making. However, a number of accounting and business scandals occurred around the world have attracted criticism on accounting. The public has witnessed a number of well-known examples of accounting scandals and bankruptcy involving large and prestigious companies in developed countries. The media has reported scandals and bankruptcies in companies such as Sunbeam, Kmart, Enron, Global Crossing (USA), BCCI, Maxwell, Polly Peck (UK) and HIH Insurance (Australia). Besides scandals in developed countries, which have sophisticated capital markets and regulations, similar cases can be also seen in developing countries with emerging capital markets. As reported by Johnson, et al. (2000), Asian countries have experienced similar cases, such as PT Bank Bali, and Sinar Mas Group (Indonesia), Bangkok Bank of Commerce (Thailand), United Engineers Bhd (Malaysia), Samsung Electronics and Hyundai (Korea).

Theses cases imply that the corporations have failed to supply accurate information to their investors, and to provide appropriate disclosures of any transactions that would impact their financial position and operating results. The recent accounting scandals have induced a crisis of confidence in financial reporting practice and effectiveness of corporate governance mechanisms (Bartley 2002; Browning 2002; O’Connell, et al. 2005). Accordingly, a number of efforts have been conducted to prevent the possibility of similar scandals. In addition, discussion on the relevance of forensic accounting in detecting accounting scandals has emerged in recent year. This paper will discuss accounting and business scandal and the possibility of forensic accounting to detect and prevent fraudulent financial reporting.

QUESTIONING FINANCIAL REPORTING PRACTICE
Although a number of efforts have been made to improve financial reporting, there is a lack of consensus as to what constitutes financial reporting quality (Cohen, et al. 2004). The current claim is that quality financial reporting is based on qualitative characteristics set by the regulatory bodies and the quality is achieved in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and generally accepted auditing standards. Such characteristics include relevance, timeliness, reliability, verifiability, representational faithfulness, neutrality, comparability and consistency, materiality, feasibility or costs and benefits, and transparency.

Miller and Bahnson (2002) consider the quality of financial reporting from capital market perspectives focusing on voluntary disclosure. They (2002, p. xviii) point out that quality financial reporting is a means by which companies report

…as much useful financial information as possible to the capital markets, including the public, the stockholders, and the company’s creditors…by voluntarily providing market value-based and other information that the capital markets consider to be useful for assessing the value of the company’s securities.

According to this view, financial reporting is concerned not only with the shareholders’ interests, but also with the public’s interests. Quality financial reporting is focused on the development of an efficient capital market. It is intended to enable market players to measure share prices traded in the capital market.

What Miller and Bahnson (2002) mean is that the only way to produce quality financial reports is by providing more information beyond the minimum requirement set by laws/regulations, and that such information must be focused on market-value information to create capital market efficiency. This concern is concentrated on the future-oriented information, rather than the way of presenting the information. In regard to disclosure and the way of presenting information in financial reports, Bromwich (1992, p. 215-216) claims that

…[it] does not matter how information is disclosed. It is information itself, which matters. Thus accounting information is seen as merely one possible source of information which may often repeat items already available from other sources. With this view, disclosure via accounting reports of information not available from other sources would seem likely to improve decision making…It is the information itself which is of concern, not how it is presented. Any new information contained in published accounting reports will be discovered quickly in efficient markets, irrespective of how or where the information is positioned in accounting statements.

This assertion is similar to the arguments by Wolk, et al. (2004). They believe that the ability of a firm to raise capital will be improved if the firm has a good reputation with respect to financial reporting.

However, it is believed that because of opportunistic behaviours, managers might prefer to pay little attention to the present and future cash flows and use accounting policies that make a company look more attractive. Indeed, Revsine (1997) claimed that when publishing financial reports,

managers prefer reporting methods that provide latitude in income determination…rather than methods that tightly specify statement numbers under given economic conditions. By providing managers with control over when they can report externally driven events, loose reporting standards can be used by managers to increase compensation, and to hide perquisite consumption, incompetence, or laziness (p.28).

Revsine (1997) continued to argue that

…manager’s preferences for “loose” financial reporting standards also arise for reasons other than bonuses. These include, for example, enhancing reported performance in an attempt to (1) impress shareholders and (2) protect their jobs by forestalling takeovers (P.28).

This phenomena leads us to question whether the current practice shows quality financial reporting and does management show ethical behaviour in presenting financial reports?

ACCOUNTING SCANDALS: WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Even though endeavours have been directed to produce quality financial reporting, it is apparent that quality financial reporting is often an illusion or myth. In practice, as can be seen from a number of accounting scandals and bankruptcies, some companies have published low-quality financial reports and provided misleading information. Quality financial reporting is still a dream of accountants. It seems to be a myth. The reality of financial reporting is different from what people currently believe.

It might true that theoretically accounting is intended to provide useful information. Bromwich (1992) argues that accounting reports are seen as the only means of publishing information. In the model of decision-making theory (see for example Demski 1980; Marschak and Radner, 1972), it is claimed that individual’s past knowledge and experience will be inspired by any information gained over their lifetime (Bromwich 1992). Thus if managers believe that users can be fooled by managing earnings, they will continue to produce low-quality financial reports.

In the case of WorldCom, for example, it can be seen that in 2002 WorldCom filed the largest bankruptcy in accounting history, revealing that management fraudulently misstated earnings. Arthur Andersen, WorldCom’s auditor, failed to notice US$3.85 billion shifting of funds to cover up revenue shortages (Oliver 2004). The Enron case also showed a similar pattern of earnings management. Enron had “aggressive earnings targets and entered into numerous complex transactions to achieve those targets” (Jennings 2003, p. 47).

Furthermore, it is claimed that the involvement of independent auditors can reduce the possibility of frauds in a company. However, their involvement goes beyond auditing functions, which leads to low-quality financial reporting. For example, Arthur Andersen, a well-known accounting firm, let the line between consulting and auditing blur. The collapse of large companies worldwide (HIH insurance, Enron, WorldCom) have sparked lively interest in the amount of consultancy fees that external auditors receive in addition to audit fees . In the Australia environment, HIH insurance paid Andersen A$1.7 million for audit services and A$1.6 million for consultancy services for the 1999–2000 financial year (Pha 2001). As a consequence, it has been argued that the role of external auditors has been subject to the influence of the board of directors of the company (Byrne 1998; Tinker 1991).

The Enron collapse showed a similar relationship between Andersen and Enron. In fact, “[w]hile the Enron/Andersen relationship was extreme, its individual components provide indications of how a relationship can become so muddled that auditor independence is sacrificed” (Jennings 2003, p. 47). The above evidence shows that auditors were not independence and this can lead to low-quality financial reporting.
In general, it can be claimed that the above accounting scandal occurred because of integrated factors. Such factors include lack of auditor independence, weak law enforcement, dishonest management, weak internal control and in ability of corporate governance mechanism in monitoring management behaviours. Consequently, there should be alternative tools to detect the possibility of financial frauds. Forensic accounting can be seen as one of such tools.

DO WE NEED FORENSIC AUDITING?
Forensic accounting gets its name from association with a court of record; forensic accounting and auditing are performed to achieve an objective that involves a judicial determination. By definition, forensic accounting includes the use of accounting, auditing, and investigative skills to assist in legal matters. It comprises two major components: litigation services that recognize the role of an accountant as an expert consultant, and investigative services that use a forensic accountant’s skills and may require possible courtroom testimony (Coulbert 2004).
According to the definition developed by the AICPA’s Forensic and Litigation Services Committee, forensic accounting may involve the application of special skills in accounting, auditing, finance, quantitative methods, the law, and research (Houck 2006). It also requires investigative skills to collect, analyze, and evaluate financial evidence, as well as the ability to interpret and communicate findings. Forensic accounting encompasses litigation support, investigation, and dispute resolution and, therefore, is the intersection between accounting, investigation, and the law (Coulbert 2004; Crumbley and Apostolou 2005; Rezae 2002). Hence, forensic accounting/auditing is mainly intended to prevent and detect the existence of fraudulent financial reporting through examination and investigative processes.

The above views shows that forensic accounting can be considered as a methodology for resolving fraud allegations from inception to disposition, including obtaining evidence, interviewing, writing reports, and testifying. The ACFE’s manual states that fraud examiners also assist in fraud prevention, deterrence, detection, investigation, and remediation (Rezae 2002). Like most forensic sciences, fraud and forensic accounting may involve using financial information to piece together or reconstruct past events in instances where that reconstruction is likely to be used in some judicial proceeding (e.g., criminal or civil court, deposition, mediation, arbitration, or settlement negotiation). Fraud and forensic accounting is a broad area that includes occupational fraud, corruption and abuse, financial statement fraud, and civil litigation matters (Coulbert and Apostolou 2005). While the reconstruction activity tends to look backwards, the impact may have implications for the future, particularly in civil torts and breach of contact claims.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF ACCOUNTANTS AND WHAT SKILLS SHOULD THEY HAVE?
An understanding of effective fraud and forensic accounting techniques can assist forensic accountants in identifying illegal activity and discovering and preserving evidence (Houck et al 2006). Hence, it is important to understand that the role of a forensic accountant is different from that of regular auditor.

It is widely known that an auditor determines compliance with auditing standards and considers the possibility of fraud. Crumbley and Apostolou (2005) claim that a forensic accountant has a single-minded focus on the detection and deterrence of fraud. Robert Roche, as cited by Crumbley and Apostolou (2005), describes a forensic accountant as someone
who can look behind the facade–not accept the records at their face value–someone who has a suspicious mind that [considers that] the documents he or she is looking at may not be what they purport to be and someone who has the expertise to go out and conduct very detailed interviews of individuals to develop the truth, especially if some are presumed to be lying.

Forensic accounting often involves an exhaustive, detailed effort to penetrate concealment tactics. Stephen Seliskar says, “in terms of the sheer labor, the magnitude of effort, time, and expense required to do a single, very focused [forensic] investigation–as contrasted to auditing a set of the financial statements–the difference is incredible.” (quoted by Krell 2002).
The above views imply that the role of forensic accountant is different from that other accountants. They are different in their further education and training or years of experience. In addition, forensic accountant, are closer to being investigators, economists —who do economic and market estimation and appraisers—who are typically trained in finance or valuation theory in business.

As an investigator, a forensic accountant can be seen as those who are specialist in fraud detection, and particularly in documenting exactly the kind of evidence required for successful criminal prosecution; able to work in complex regulatory and litigation environments; and with reasonable accuracy, can reconstruct missing, destroyed, or deceptive accounting records. Meanwhile, as an economist, they are particularly effective at economic loss, damage, and social harm estimates; familiar with the assumptions, algorithms, and calculations in econometric models and opportunity cost scenarios; can measure and quantify such things as loss of goodwill and reputation. Finally, as an appraisal, forensic accountants should be able to reliably express informed opinion on matters of business value, based on generally accepted theory; effective at evaluating the historical and projected degrees of risk and return of any going concern as well as any and all financial transactions involving assets, property, taxes, and equities (Bologna and Lindquist 1995)

Moreover, Bologna and Lindquist (1995) assert that fraud auditing is an emerging, new discipline, which involves skills not unlike those of a financial crime investigator. Regular auditors focus on errors, omissions, exaggerated assertions, misstatements of fact, and even though they sometimes track “suspicious” things, a regular auditor might never use that word. Fraud auditors, by contrast, focus on exceptions, oddities, irregularities, patterns, and suspicious things. A regular auditor will detect fraud Only 10% of the time (Bologna and Lindquist 1995: 32). Such detection will probably be by accident, most likely because of the random sampling nature of what a regular auditor looks at. Fraud auditors might improve on this detection percentage by going straight to the types of accounts where fraud is most likely to occur.

In addition, the characteristic that differentiates fraud auditors and forensic accountants from regular auditors is the persistence and doggedness to which a suspicion is followed up on. Forensic accountants may be ordered in by a regulatory agency after receiving notice from an employee whistleblower, or press coverage may make it known that the company has a scandalous CEO or history (Bologna and Lindquist 1995). There are no professional standards for when regular auditors should become whistleblowers, and unfortunately, the involvement of a forensic accountant is almost always reactive. There is a need for more proactive monitoring of the signs of financial crime.

Furthermore, forensic accountants react in response to criminal complaints, statements made in civil litigation, and rumors that come to the attention of authorities. Suspicion should perhaps refer to signs of cover up or disguise (Rezae 2002). Class-action suits by shareholders may stimulate a forensic accounting investigation, but class-action suits only hurt the corporation, and let the offending CEO go free. Regular auditors, as we have seen, also tend to not make good witnesses in court, and they sometimes are more a hindrance than help for law enforcement. There may be a need for the auditing and assurance professions to change their ways before new, emerging fields move in to fill the gap.

In regard to the above arguments, forensic accounting should play an important role as expert witnesses and fraud investigators. Accordingly, forensic accountants should possess a specific skills and training that enable them to play their roles as expert witnesses and fraud investigators.
The area of study known as forensic accounting, as Houck et al (2006) argue, consists of a rather unique skill set that ordinarily requires additional expertise and training beyond an academic degree in accounting, and beyond being a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), a CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), or CIRA (Certified Insolvency and Restructuring Advisor). Certifications are good in designating a high degree of professional expertise in rather specialized areas, but further graduate education and continuing education programs in more general fields would be better. More specifically, entry-level fraud and forensic accounting professionals should possess knowledge, skills, and abilities in the following areas (Houck et al 2006):
1. Criminology specifically oriented to the nature, dynamics, and scope of fraud and financial crimes; the legal, regulatory, and professional environment; and ethical issues.
2. Fraud prevention, deterrence, detection, investigation, and remediation in the following areas: asset misappropriation, corruption, and false representations; financial statement fraud; and fraud and forensic accounting in a digital environment, including computer-based tools and techniques for detection and investigation, electronic case-management tools, and other issues specific to computerized environments.
3. Forensic and litigation advisory services, including research and analysis, valuation of losses and damages, dispute investigation, and conflict resolution (i.e., arbitration and mediation).
Considering the above views, it seems that forensic accounting plays a significant role in preventing and detecting possibilities of fraudulent financial reporting. It can be seen as an attainable effort to improve quality financial reporting through education and provide other alternative research in accounting.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATION FOR EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
To sum up, the need for achieving quality financial reporting is questionable. Opportunistic behaviours have lead to fraudulent financial reporting practice. Because forensic accounting is not the same as regular audit, it is the time for forensic accounting to prevent and detect such frauds even though detection of fraud has been noticed in some regulation.

Some regulators are apparently notice the need for forensic accounting. For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Statement on Auditing Standards-99 (SAS 99), and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) have not removed the pressures on CFOs to manipulate accounting statements. The PCAOB recommends that an auditor should perform at least one walkthrough for each major class of transactions. SAS 99 does not require the use of forensic specialists but does recommend brainstorming, increased professional skepticism, and unpredictable audit tests. A proactive fraud approach involves a review of internal controls and the identification of the areas most subject to fraud.

In regard to the Indonesian jurisdiction, Standar Profesional Akuntan Publik (PSA70) request auditors to consider the possibility of fraudulent financial reporting. It is stated that

“Auditor bertanggungjawab dalam merencanakan dan melaksanakan audit untuk memperoleh keyakinan memadai tentang apakah laporan keuangan bebas dari salah saji material, baik yang disebabkan oleh kekeliruan dan kecurangan” (Auditor are responsible for planning and performing audit for the purpose of gainaing reasonable assurance as whether financial statements are free from materialy misstatement caused by irregularity and fraud)

“Auditor sesuai dengan peraturan perudang-undang yang berlaku mempunyai kewajiban untuk mengungkapkan adanya kecurangan kepada pihak lain, selain manajemen” (Auditors, by law and regulation, have obligatons to disclose fraud to other parties, beyond management)

What do the above statements imply for accounting education? It is clear that auditors should have investigative skills in performing their jobs. Consequently, accounting curriculum should consider subjects discussing forensic accounting/auditing. Such curriculum should also be directed to provide students with understanding of organisational culture, business and professional ethics, corporate governance issues, and investigative skills.
In regard to accounting research, it is well known that several research approaches or methods are currently available to help researchers analyse phenomena, but these can be categorised into two main types: scientific research and naturalistic research (Holmes, et al. 1991). The first approach is well known as the mainstream or positivistic approach; but the second has been variously labelled as critical, interpretive and so on, according to the different characteristics in approaches and methods (Bernard 1994; Denzin and Lincoln 1998; Guba and Lincoln 1998; Lincoln and Guba 1986). The differences between scientific research and naturalistic approaches can be traced further into their ontology, epistemology and methodology. However, it is not within the scope of this paper to discuss the differences.

Forensic accounting and other accounting areas can be seen from the understanding that reality exists as a social product and as a result of human interaction, symbolic discourse and creativity (Burrel and Morgan 1979; Denzin 1983; Hopper and Powell 1985; Morgan 1980; 1988; Tomkin and Groves 1983). Furthermore, it assumes that humans are incapable of total objectivity because they are situated in a reality constructed by subjective experience (Berger and Luckmann 1984). Meanings and the search for the truth is possible only through social interactions (Streubert and Carpenter 1999).

Consequently, it is necessary to consider a wide social environment in order to understand a phenomenon (Bryman 1989). Cooper and Sherer (1984) shared a view with Burchell, et al. (1980) and Tinker (1980) which is that to design better accounting systems, we need to understand how accounting systems operate in their social, political and economic contexts. Failure to take such context into account has led to an emphasis on designing accounting reports that are in “the interests of shareholders”, and not necessarily in “the interests of other groups in society” (Cooper and Sherer 1984, p. 224). By considering the social and political context, Cooper and Sherer (1984, p. 225) suggested that accounting research should

be explicitly normative—make your value judgment explicit; be descriptive— describe and interpret the practice of accounting, accounting in action; and be critical—recognise the contested nature of the accounting problematic and particularly the concept of the public interest [original emphasis].

Therefore, to understand why and how a company is committed to fraudulent financial reporting practice and how forensic accounting can detect and prevent frauds, an appropriate research approach is needed.
The inability quantitatively to measure some phenomena has led to intense interest in using other approaches to particularly human phenomena. Thus, fraudulent financial reporting and forensic accounting can be studied within an interpretive method of inquiry. Nahapiet (1988)  claims that from an interpretative approach, the process by which meanings that people attach to their social world are created and sustained are the central focus of understanding social action.

The interpretative approach is seen as appropriate because it enables the researcher to understand how financial reporting is practised in an organisation by considering values, beliefs, norms and structures accepted by organisational members, and by considering external factors, which are viewed as influencing financial reporting practice. This means that all human behaviours are shaped in the context of organisational culture (Dey 2001). In addition, such an approach is used because the aspect of human values, culture and relationships are unable to be described fully using quantitative research methods. In common with Boland and Pondy (1983, p. 225), the research objective “is not to study accounting per se, but to study individuals acting in organisations as they make and interpret accounts”. Financial reporting practice can only be developed by reference to a particular setting in which it is embedded (Burchell, et al. 1980; Hopwood 1983; Miller 1994). Thus, qualitative research could be seen useful to explore and describe fraudulent financial reporting practice and the role of forensic accounting on it.

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