Updated: Dec 15, 2022
It is not uncommon for clients to offer gifts and/or hospitality to professional accountants (including auditors).
Professional Accountants should ensure that accepting such gifts and hospitality does not violate the essential principles before doing so.
The client's offer of gifts and hospitality, its type and value, and the client's overarching purpose all play a role in determining whether or not this situation justifies the use of a threat.
For instance, if a client were to buy a professional accountant lunch after completing a lengthy and challenging job, the professional accountant could consider this gesture meaningless and unimportant.
However, the offering of a holiday by the client after a lengthy and challenging assignment would not be viewed as insignificant and immaterial. The professional accountant needs to deny such offers if they are made.
Suppose the professional accountant concludes that risks to basic principles cannot be eliminated completely or reduced to an acceptable level. In that case, the professional accountant is not permitted to accept any gifts or hospitality extended to them.
Accepting gifts and hospitality from an audit client might create a self-interest, familiarity or intimidation threat.
Firms must comply with the fundamental principles, be independent and apply the conceptual framework set out in Section 210 of Part 2 of the By-Laws (on Professional Ethics, Conduct and Practice) of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants to identify, evaluate and address threats to independence.
A firm or an assurance team member shall not accept gifts and hospitality from an assurance client unless the value is trivial and inconsequential.
Determining whether there is actual or perceived intent to influence behaviour requires the exercise of professional judgment improperly. Relevant factors to consider might include the following:
The nature, frequency, value and cumulative effect of the gift.
Timing of when the gift is offered relative to any action or decision it might influence.
Whether the gift is a customary or cultural practice, for example, offering a gift on the occasion of a religious holiday or wedding.
Whether the gift is an ancillary part of a professional service, for example, offering or accepting lunch in connection with a business meeting.
Whether the offer of the gift is limited to an individual recipient or available to a broader group. The broader group might be internal or external to the firm, such as other suppliers to the client.
The roles and positions of the individuals at the firm or the client offering or being offered the gift.
Whether the professional accountant knows or has reason to believe that accepting the gift would breach the policies and procedures of the client.
The degree of transparency with which the gift is offered.
Whether the gift was required or requested by the recipient.
The known previous behaviour or reputation of the offeror.
Examples of actions that might be safeguards to address such threats created by offering or accepting such a gift include:
Being transparent with senior management of the firm or the client about offering or accepting a gift.
Registering the gift in a log monitored by senior management or another individual responsible for the firm’s ethics compliance or maintained by the client.
Having an appropriate reviewer, who is not otherwise involved in providing the professional service, review any work performed or decisions made by the professional accountant concerning the client from which the accountant accepted the gift.
Donating the gift to charity after receipt and appropriately disclosing the donation, for example, to a member of senior management of the firm or the individual who offered the gift.
Reimbursing the cost of the gift, such as hospitality, received.
As soon as possible, return the gift, such as a gift, after it was initially accepted.
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