ANTITRUST

India Presses For Big Four Accountancy Review

The Indian government is reportedly seeking an antitrust investigation into potential anticompetitive behavior among the nation’s Big Four accountancy and auditing firms, reports in Reuters said Monday (July 22).

An unnamed senior government official told the publication that the Competition Commission of India has been asked to initiate an investigation into the Big Four, PwC, EY, Deloitte and KPMG, on suspicion they are abusing their market dominance in the corporate auditing industry.

Yet the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has not submitted a formal request to the CCI, the government official noted.

“If you look at the top 500 companies in India, they are totally dominant and the Big Four seem to be sharing the work … whatever be the reason, there seems to be entry barriers,” the official said. “The CCI should look into the dominance of these four global auditors and whether they are thwarting competition.”

Neither the competition regulator or any of the Big Four responded to Reuters’ request for comment. According to the publication, the Big Four hold an estimated 60 percent of the auditing jobs at India’s top 500 public firms.

The companies are the same Big Four accounting giants in the U.K., another market in which the firms’ dominance has been called into question as of late. Amid some government pressure to break up the market leaders, PwC and KPMG have taken internal measures to strengthen performance controls following allegations of inadequacy after several high-profile corporate collapses.

Last month, PwC announced it would add 500 more auditors and deploy a digital audit team to strengthen reviews of existing clients. Prior, KPMG announced plans to heighten oversight of U.K. auditing operations by creating a new committee to manage controls and performance.

While the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority has pressed for a breakup, the auditing giants have so far resisted such measures.

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