Deloitte, Partner Fined Over Serco Geografix Audit Failures

Deloitte and a senior partner in the U.K. have been fined and reprimanded for misconduct over the audit of Serco Geografix (SGL), an outsourcing firm, in a July 4 settlement, according to Reuters.

The settlement ended a six-year investigation into fraud and accounting errors. The Financial Reporting Council, the audit watchdog in the U.K., fined Deloitte 4.23 million pounds ($5.32 million) and audit engagement partner Helen George 97,000 pounds after they admitted misconduct for audits in 2011 and 2012.

A subsidiary of Serco (SGL) had been awarded government contracts for GPS satellite-tracking tags to enforce curfews on more than 100,000 offenders each year. A London judge said the company committed “deliberate fraud” between 2010 and 2013.

The judge approved a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) between SGL and the UK Serious Fraud Office. The company will pay a fine of 19.2 million pounds and costs of 3.7 million pounds.

“SGL engaged in quite deliberate fraud against the Ministry of Justice in relation to the provision of services vital to the criminal justice system,” the judge said.

SGL’s parent Serco Group, one of Britain’s largest government contractors, has said the fraud and false accounting offenses related to how the company reported the profitability of its electronic monitoring contract.

The penalty on Deloitte, one of the Big 4 accounting firms, comes amid a backdrop of serious discussion among British government officials about whether the profession needs a shakeup after the failures of retailer BHS and construction company Carillion.

Deloitte, in a statement, says it regretted that its audit work on Serco Geografix had been below the expected standards.

“We have a program of continuous improvement for our audit quality processes … We have also specifically agreed with the FRC certain actions focused on learning lessons from the shortcomings in this audit work,” Deloitte’s statement says.

Both Deloitte and Helen George qualified for fine reductions after cooperating with the investigation.

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