Anti-corruption disclosure quality and earnings management in the United Kingdom: the role of audit quality

Salem, Rami Ibrahim a orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1241-1099, Ghazwani, Musa, Gerged, Ali Meftah and Whittington, Mark (2023) Anti-corruption disclosure quality and earnings management in the United Kingdom: the role of audit quality. International Journal of Accounting & Information Management . ISSN 1834-7649

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Building upon institutional pressures on firms to deal with corruption, this study aims to investigate the association between a firm's engagement with anti-corruption disclosure quality (ACD_Q) and earnings management (EM). Also, this study examines the moderating role of audit quality in the association between ACD_Q and EM.

The authors constructed an ACD_Q index based on the 2010 UK Bribery Act and taking into account a wide range of rules on corruption and bribery, including those of the OECD, World Bank, UNCTAD, UNGC, UNCAC and GRI. Generalized method of moments and panel regression were used to examine the association between ACD_Q and EM.

Using a sample of 2,695 firm‐year observations of the UK’s FTSE-350 from 2008 to 2018, this study finds ACD_Q is negatively associated with EM. In addition, this negative relationship is contingent on audit committee independence and audit committee expertise. This finding is supported by additional robustness and sensitivity analysis.

Practical implications
The empirical evidence reiterates the crucial need for more concerted efforts to ensure corporate engagement in anti-corruption practices with a view to reducing earnings manipulations.

This study contributes to the limited evidence that investigates how ACD Q influences EM in the UK after the introduction of the UK Bribery Act in 2010. Furthermore, by considering the period from 2008 to 2019, this study investigates the potential moderating role of UK corporate governance reforms in EM reduction. In particular, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study assesses for the first time the moderating effect of audit committee mechanisms on the ACD Q and EM nexus.

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