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Business

German Parties Call for War on Creative Accounting

German politicians are calling for auditors to be placed under stricter control and for the federal supervisory authorities to be given increased powers to avoid the accounting problems plaguing American corporations.

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German politicians say they want to make corporate accounting standards trick-proof.

Germany's government and opposition parties are responding to the accounting scandals at U.S. companies Enron and Worldcom, and the large-scale jitters that these caused on the stock markets, by calling for auditors to be placed under stricter control and for the federal supervisory authorities to be given increased powers.

If the governing Social Democratic Party forms the next government, it will introduce ";tighter controls over the controllers,"; said Jörg-Otto Spiller, one of the party's experts on finance policy, who is also designated president of BAFin, the federal body responsible for supervision of the financial-services industry.

In Spiller's view, BAFin must be given more powers to examine the work of the auditors. He said increasing numbers of people are investing in equities and equity-based funds to finance their retirement. An increased incidence of balance-sheet falsification would put such investments at risk.

Opposition parties also called for changes to protect investors from more Enron/Worldcom-style scandals. Rainer Brüderle, vice-president of the liberal FDP, joined the SPD in calling for more powers to be invested in BAFin. Meanwhile, Matthias Wissmann, economic-policy expert of the conservative CDU called for new rules to stop a single company from being able to serve another both in an advisory capacity and as auditor.

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