When Should an Accountant Place Duty to the Public Ahead of Duty to a Client or Employer?


Quick Answer

According to text from "Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice," provided courtesy of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), an accountant has an ethical responsibility to report fair and accurate information during an audit or attestation. This responsibility occurs at all times, despite private company interests.

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Full Answer

According to the NCBI site, this ethical obligation to place the public's interests first applies only to certified public accountants. The reasoning behind the ethical rules is that the company's financial papers must be seen to be accurate, so that investors can make financial decisions concerning the company. CPAs are thus tested, not only for their accounting skills before being certified, but also on their understanding of the profession's ethics as well.

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