Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is a person having significant influence (to an entities) considered a related parties

We received a very good question from our Accounting & Auditing blog's royal readers with regard to related parties, as follows:

"I would like to inquire that related company or related party does not necessary to own shares in the other company but also have great influence in the decision making. Am I right? What if they do not own shares but has great influence in the decision making, does it still consider as related?"

According to International Accounting Standard 24, the definition of a related party does not only include shareholders, but also many other parties. A person who may exercise significant influence over the entity's decision making is also considered a related party.

Why is it important to identify an individual having significant influence as a related party? This is because we need to consider whether the transaction entred into between the Company and the invidiual ( having significant influence) are conducted on an arms-length basis. There are instances / cases where the said transactions were not entered into on an arms-length basis but not detected by audit committee or auditors.

Hence, the responsiblity of auditors include obtaining the list of related parties from audit client, identify potential related parties not identified by management, pay reasonably sufficient attention to related parties transactions, and ensure that related party transactions are disclosed appropriately in accordance with IAS 24.

Recommendation of new accounting procedures: Investment-equity reconciliation

A good exercise can be undertaken by the holding company is to prepare appropriate documentation to reconcile investor's cost of investment to investee's share capital for any investment-equtiy relationships within the Group.

The procdure appears to be straight forward, simple and non-complex on first thought. However, the reconciliation can turn into a complex procedure, due to:

- impairment been recorded for cost of investment
- difference exchange rate was used to translate the funding (i.e. investor used exchange rate A, while investee used exchange rate B)
- funding remitted / received is not recorded in appropriate account, etc

This recommended procedure is particularly useful for entities with significant number of subsidiaries. Discrepancies (between cost of investment and share capital) are usually expected for large group of entities.

This reconciliation excercise help to ensure that appropriate figures are recorded in respective source ledger, and ensure that appropriate elimination are done at group level.