During 2012, the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission under the financial watchdog Financial Service Agency launched a probe in February as they suspected accounting irregularities at Toshiba. When Toshiba realized the seriousness of the issue, they decided to set up an in-house investigate committee in April when the firm publicly announced its accounting troubles.
However, the irregularities apparently went deeper than the firm initially believed which then brought it handed the investigation over to an independent outside committee.From the investigators, CEO Atsutoshi Nishida in 2008 began the accounting misconduct in the middle of global financial crisis which have a significant impact on Toshiba’s profitability. In 2009, Mr. Nishida become the company advisor of Norio Sasaki, the new CEO and continued the misconduct and the malpractice continued and eventually ended in scandal under Tanaka in 2013. However, there were no any internal systems take place to stop the fraud involved by Tanaka and his predecessors, Atsutoshi Nishida (CEO in 2008) and Norio Sasaki (CEO of 2009). The first fraud of Toshiba was caught in the year 2012 when the investigators found direct evidence of inappropriate accounting practices from fiscal year 2009 to 2014 and they founded a overstated profits of ¥152 billion which is equivalent to $1.
2 billion in multiple Toshiba business units which is PC unit, infrastructure projects, semiconductors and the television manufacturing division. However, the company’s PC unit was found to be most problematic which it had been accounted more than a third of the company’s total inflated profit.They overstated their profit by using inappropriate accounting techniques between the different business units. For example, Toshiba is a supplier of manufacturing of computers to a partner.
Toshiba will sell the parts of the PC to partner who would assemble the computer and Toshiba will then buy back the computer. Company’s inventory would increase when the PC unit would sell more parts than needed to the partner which brings Toshiba to inflate its profit.Besides PC unit, the infrastructure division also using appropriate accounting techniques by understated their cost of construction projects even though it knew the real costs had increased according to new estimation. So, can be concluded that the evidence which resulted in overstatedprofits was booking future profit early, pushing back losses, pushing back charges and other similar techniques. Although all the techniques taken were different among each other’s, the investigators group successfully pinpoint each single set of direct and indirect causes which brings to explanation of how the inappropriate practices took place across the organization.
Moreover, the investigators also described how this company’s management team pass on strict profit targets. This target was known as challenges to business unit presidents. The ramification of failure usually would not be accepted.
The presidents set high targets to their own business unit as their priority was to secure profits for each quarter. They demanded their subordinates to improve the company’s results. The investigators panel claimed that in 2008, Mr Nishida claimed the company was facing a huge loss around ¥18.4billion and he declared the loss was so embarrassing that they cannot announce it. As results, Toshiba’s staff falsified the records and wipe off the loss by recorded a profit of around ¥500million.
Furthermore, there were some cases that there was no time left to materially affect unit performance. For example, in September 2012, the digital product and service division of Toshiba which includes its computer business, told President Sasaki that it would post a ¥24.8 billion operating loss for the first half of the fiscal year. But Sasaki refused to accept the forecast and told the division to improve its profit by ¥12 billion in just three days. So, it soon became clear within individual business units that the only way to achieve these challenges through the using of irregular accounting techniques.
Besides, in September 2013, President Tanaka told a senior vice president that he wanted to have a “secret talk.” He asked the vice president to improve a loss at the digital product and service division by padding the numbers. The vice president told Tanaka he was personally opposed to doing so, but if Tanaka decided, he would support it as Toshiba’s corporate culture is do not allow lower-level managers to go against the bosses. So, can be concluded that Toshiba’s corporate culture was also an important factor caused the emergence of fraudulent accounting practices. The investigative panels pointed weak corporate governance and poorly functioning system of internal controls at every level of the Toshiba conglomerate.
Internal controls in the finance division, the corporate auditing division, the risk management division and in the securities disclosure committee did not function properly to identify and stop the inappropriate behaviors.