In confirming accounts receivable on December 31, 2009, the author found 15 discrepancies between the customers' records and the recorded amounts in the accounts receivable master file. A copy of all confirmations that had exceptions was turned over to the company controller investigate the reason for the difference. He, in turn, had the bookkeeper perform the analysis. The bookkeeper analyzed each exception, determined its cause, and prepared an elaborate spreadsheet describeing exceptions were caused by timing differences in the bookkeeper's report indicated that the exceptions were caused by timing differences in the clients' and customer's records. The auditor reviewed the spreadsheet and concluded that there were no material exceptions to accounts receivable.
Two years subsequent to the audit, it was determined that the bookkeeper had stolen thousands of dollars in the past 3 years by taking cash and overstating accounts receivable. In a lawsuit by the client against the CPA, an examination of the auditors December 31, 2009, accounts receivable working papers, which were subpoenaed by the court, indicated that one of the explanations in the bookkeeper's analysis of the exceptions was fictitious. The analysis stated the exception was caused by a sales allowance granted to the customer for defective merchandise the day before the end of the year. The difference was actually caused by the bookkeeper's theft.
a. What are the legal issues involved in this situation? What should the auditor use as a defense in the event that he is sued?
b. What was the CPA's deficiency in conducting the audit of accounts receivable?