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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Although corporate fraud is not held in check by our current audit process, in which auditors lack independence from the clients they inspect, numerous attempts to fix this problem have failed. This Article analyzes the history of auditing, which has been neglected in legal scholarship, to argue that the mandatory audit system created the problem of auditor independence. Accountants advocated for the system in order to gain the status of a learned profession; however, they received more than they bargained for. In particular, auditors incurred an obligation to the "investing public," but this undefined group does not actually control the auditors. Auditors answer to the companies being audited. The resulting conflict of interest has proven to be insurmountable. This Article argues that the problem will be resolved only by returning to its origins in the federal securities laws of the 1930s and by restructuring the relationships involved in public company audits.

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