The Improbability of Fraud in Accounting for Derivatives: A Case Study on the Boundaries of Financial Reporting Compliance
The European Accounting Review
This study responds to recent calls in the literature to examine fraud using detailed case studies, extending knowledge beyond individual incentives and capital market reactions towards a more contextualized understanding of the concept. We use an institutional logics perspective to challenge existing assumptions about a universally valid meaning of compliance, fraud, and faithful representation. Presenting the case of the Swedish bank HQ, we show how the interpretation of the accounting
... d for option measurement varies across different enforcement bodies because the meaning of compliance is socially negotiated across the institutional logics of markets, financial regulation, and law. The independent decision-making of the different enforcement bodies leads to a systematic variation in the interpretation of principles-based accounting standards without ultimate coordination. To define consistent boundaries of compliance across institutional logics, and thus, to distinguish between fraud and allowable managerial discretion becomes problematic. Faithful representation, in turn, cannot be understood as financial statements reflecting a correct value or as financial statements being prepared in accordance with acceptable practice, as suggested in the earlier literature. Instead, faithful representation itself becomes a contextually bound concept, which can only be defined within an institutional logic.