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Keywords:

  • Discretionary working capital accruals;
  • Financial restatements;
  • Nonaudit services;
  • Public criticism and regulatory investigation

Abstract

Using a sample of UK firms for the period 1996-98, we provide empirical evidence on the relation between nonaudit services (NAS) purchase and three proxies for earnings management: (1) the likelihood that client firm accounting practices during the sample period were publicly criticized or subject to regulatory investigation; (2) the likelihood that client firms were required to restate prior financial statements or adjust current year results upon adoption of Financial Reporting Standard (FRS) No. 12, which was intended to curb opportunistic use of provisions; and (3) the mean absolute value of client discretionary working capital accruals over the sample period. The level of NAS purchase is measured, alternatively, as (1) the ratio of nonaudit to total auditor fees, (2) the natural log of NAS fees, and (3) the decile rank of a particular client's NAS fees given all NAS fees received by the audit firm practice office. With one exception, we find that all three measures of earnings management are positively and significantly associated with the three measures of NAS purchase.