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DHFL case: NFRA debars 18 auditors for up to a year for lapses

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The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) has debarred 18 auditors for up to a year and also imposed penalties on them, citing professional lapses in the audits of various branches of the crisis-hit DHFL.

In separate orders for each auditor, the regulator has imposed a penalty of ₹1 lakh on each of them.

As many as 14 of the 18 auditors have been debarred for a year, while four face a six-month ban.

They have been barred from “being appointed as an auditor or internal auditor or from undertaking any audit in respect of financial statements or internal audit of the functions and activities of any company or body corporate”.

The audit regulator’s orders are based on its probe into the role of the statutory auditors of DHFL for 2017-18, the year when the alleged fraud was primarily stated to have occurred, it said in orders dated September 29.

The auditors concerned played the role of engagement partners, or branch auditors, in the audit of DHFL branches. NFRA said in the wake of media reports on the alleged siphoning of public money of around ₹31,000 crore and the Enforcement Directorate’s reported action in April 2020 on an alleged banking fraud of about ₹3,700 crore by the promoter/directors of DHFL, it suo-motu initiated an audit quality review to probe into the role of the statutory auditors of DHFL for 2017-18. NFRA also found that 33 branch auditors had signed the so-called “Independent Branch Auditors’ Report” for nearly 250 branches but none of their appointments was approved at the company’s annual general meeting.

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