|Abstract: ||在 2010 年12 月21 日，美國紐約州檢察總長Andrew Cuomo 正式起訴四大會計師 事務所之一的Ernst & Young (EY)。在起訴書中，Andrew Cuomo 指控EY 在2000 至2007 年間，直接幫助雷曼兄弟隱藏500 億美金的流動性投資，來降低雷曼兄弟資產負債表上 的槓桿程度 (即所謂的Repo 105 手法)，提供錯誤的財務報表，欺騙投資大眾。Andrew Cuomo 指出四點與EY 有關的審計問題：(1) EY 在2000 至2007 年間總共收到雷曼兄弟 支付之審計公費達1 億8500 萬美金；(2) 在宣布破產之前，雷曼兄弟是EY 的第八大客 戶；(3) EY 從未將雷曼兄弟所進行之Repo 105 交易告知雷曼兄弟之審計委員會；(4) 雷 曼兄弟之審計委員會在本案中並未被Andrew Cuomo 認定有監督過失。 這個訴訟案件牽涉了兩個重要守門員 (gatekeepers) 監督效率的失靈：會計師與審 計委員會。一方面來說，由於雷曼兄弟所支付的公費金額龐大，EY 似乎喪失了獨立性， 進而允許雷曼兄弟利用Repo 105 手法編製假報表，且時間長達七年。另外一方面，雷 曼兄弟的審計委員會不僅無法事前偵測雷曼兄弟的財務報表舞弊行為，更錯誤地持續聘 用EY 擔任雷曼兄弟的會計師，並支付逐年增加的高額審計公費。很明顯地，雷曼兄弟 的管理當局利用會計師長期地欺騙了雷曼兄弟的審計委員會。 在另外一個 2005 年 SEC vs. Del Global Technologies 的訴訟案件中，SEC 指控Del 審計委員會的主席在1999 至2000 年間，簽發不實的函證信給Del 的會計師BDO Seidman，試圖隱瞞Del 管理當局錯誤的收益認定會計處理，以方便管理當局進行財務 報表舞弊。在這個案例中，Del 的管理當局利用審計委員會長期地欺騙了會計師。有鑑 於沙氏法案對於會計師、審計委員會以及兩者間必要溝通之相關規定，上述兩個案例隱 含著一個重要的實證議題：管理當局是否會利用一個監督者去欺騙另外一個監督者，以 達成其作假帳的目的? 本研究試圖從上述實證議題切入，在考量經濟誘因所產生之經濟結合 (economic bond) 對於會計師以及審計委員會獨立性所產生之潛在影響後，探討經理人會利用會計 師還是審計委員會來進行盈餘管理。本研究的發現將有三個政策性的意涵：(1) 主管機 關可能必須考慮針對獨立性喪失較嚴重的監督者，予以額外的規範 (例如：公司支付報 酬的種類與必要的揭露以及領取報酬的時間)；(2) 主管機關可以瞭解何種類型的公司會 利用何種監督者來進行盈餘管理；(3) 主管機關可以了解管理當局到底是將會計師與審 計委員會視為策略性互補或者是策略性替代，來確保財務報導的可靠性。從管制面的角 度來看，策略性互補應為沙氏法案立法的主要目的。 過去的文獻已探討會計師獨立性以及審計委員會獨立性個別對於經理人財務報導 品質的影響，較少有研究分析經濟誘因是否對會計師獨立性以及審計委員會獨立性會有 不同程度的影響，進而引發經理人利用此機會來遂行其盈餘管理之行為。本研究試圖針 對這個議題提供實證證據。|
On December 21, 2010, the New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, filed a lawsuit against Ernst & Young (EY), accusing that EY directly facilitated Lehman Brothers to hide $50 billion of securities to reduce Lehman's balance sheet leverage (i.e., the Repo 105 maneuver), thereby defrauding the investing public. In his complain, Andrew Cuomo pointed out several major auditing issues related to EY. First, EY received more than $185 million of audit fees from Lehman during the seven years from 2000~2007 when it used the Repo 105 transactions. Second, Lehman was EY's 8th-largest U.S. client before its collapse. Third, EY never communicated anything about the Repo 105 transactions to Lehman's audit committee. Finally, Lehman's audit committee was not accused for negligence in this civil litigation. This litigation case involves a breakdown of external auditors and audit committees, two major gatekeepers whose qualifications and responsibilities have been explicitly stipulated in the SOX and subsequent SEC rules. On the one hand, EY appears to compromise its independence in detecting and reporting material misapplications of GAAP due to high audit fees paid by Lehman. On the other hand, Lehman's audit committee not only failed in preventing fraudulent financial reporting resulting from the long-standing Repo 105 maneuver, but also failed in retaining EY as Lehman's auditors and paying increasing audit fees over years. Apparently, Lehman's management relied on its auditor to successfully play with its audit committee for many years. This contrasts with the 2005 SEC vs. Del Global Technologies case, in which Del's former audit committee chairman was sued by the SEC for signing false audit confirmation letters to help Del's management engage in improper revenue recognition and conceal deceptive accounting practices during 1997 and 2000, all of which resulted in fraudulent financial statements. In this case, Del's management relied on its audit committee to successfully play with its auditor, BDO Seidman. Given the stringent rules SOX imposes on the auditors, the audit committees, and the required communications between them, it is empirically important to understand whether managers rely on one gatekeeper to fool around the other for the purpose of cooking their books. This study intends to address a narrower research question related to the empirical issue mentioned above. Specifically, I will investigate managers' decision of relying on auditors or audit committees to cook the books, taking into account the economic bond that may impair their independence. This research question bears three policy implications. First, new regulations may be needed to the party whose oversight effectiveness is relatively weaker due to relatively stronger economic bond with the managers. Second, the empirical evidence provides insights into the association between company characteristics and its relative reliance on auditors or audit committees to cook the books. Finally, securities regulators may gain an understanding as to whether managers use auditors and audit committees as strategic substitutes or strategic complements in ensuring financial reporting credibility. From a regulation's perspective, it is desirable that managers regard auditors and audit committees as strategic complements because this is consistent with Sections 204 and 301 of SOX. While prior research has examined the effects of auditor independence and audit committee independence alone on managers' financial reporting quality, few attempts have been made to compare the relative oversight effectiveness of these two types of gatekeepers when they face financial incentives motivating them to compromise their independence. This study provides a first step to provide some empirical evidence on this issue.