ACRA, Van der Horst Energy and FRS102

a quiet pavillion

What happened?
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has requested Catalist-listed Van der Horst Energy (VDHE) to restate its financial statements for fiscal 2008 on grounds that options granted to two executive directors should have been treated as an equity-settled share-based payment under a financial reporting standard (FRS).

ACRA confirmed that this is the first time it has directed a listed company to restate its financial statements under such circumstances.

What is the rule?
FRS102 ruled that every company that granted stock options have to account for them as a business expense in its income statement, instead of merely just having to mention them as a note in the annual report.

What is the implication?
After taking the fair value of the share options of $5.7 million as business expense, VDHE would now report a pre-tax loss of $2.83 million, instead of the pre-tax profit of $2.87 million that were earlier stated.

ACRA was not prepared to sit back and accept the auditor’s qualification of the accounts on the basis of non-compliance with FRS102. ACRA has now ruled for restatement of the financial statements.

Transfer pricing in retro – 2006

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Back in July 2006, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) organised its first transfer pricing conference in collaboration with several renowned tax and business consulting firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Over 600 executives and tax practitioners attended the half-day forum titled: Transfer Pricing in Singapore – What you need to know.

It officially signalled IRAS’s intention to focus resources in this area in the coming years. In future postings, I will attempt to provide the latest update on this front.

In 2006, Mr. See Jee Chang, IRAS’s Director for International Tax/Tax Policy & Ruling, highlighted two areas that require further clarification.

  • One area relates to the current practice of not requiring interest on intercompany loans.
  • The second relates to the common practice of charging a 5% profit mark-up for intercompany services.

At that preliminary stage, IRAS did not provide any detailed guidance but only signalled that related party loans involving foreign entities may be subject to adjustments.

With regard to intercompany services, IRAS mentioned that while a 5% mark-up may be accepted for routine services, the arm’s length principle may imply higher mark-ups for non-routine, value-added services.

Audit opinion?

Based on Singapore’s accounting standards, auditors would put an ‘emphasis of matter’ if an issue warrants deeper discussion but does not affect the auditors’ opinion.

Matters that affect their opinion would be highlighted by way of a qualified opinion, a disclaimer of opinion or an adverse opinion – in order of severity.

Is there a better way?

Perhaps we could follow the World Health Organisation’s numerical approach on the level of seriousness on H1N1.

Alternatively, we could go on the colour-coding way.

Of course, I am not wholly serious about the above suggestions.

But the point here, let us not try to make our profession and our work complicated by using “chim” words/phrases that the ulitmate users of the auditor’s report may not understand.

Can we do better?