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The Big Four - Accounting Firms Under Scrutiny

July 21, 2022

The Wirecard scandal brought the role of big auditing firms into focus. Their work is supposed to create trust in companies. But are appearances deceptive?

Thumbnail ZDF Doku "Big Four"
Image: ZDF

EY, PwC, KPMG and Deloitte: these "Big Four" auditing firms are hardly household names. Yet they play a key role in the global economy.
They have also all been at the center of a number of major financial scandals.

Thumbnail ZDF Doku "Big Four"
Image: ZDF

For ten years, auditors at EY (Ernst & Young) certified Wirecard's annual financial statements. They failed to uncover that a network of fraudsters were using accounting tricks to write billions into Wirecard's books over several years. 

Hundreds of Wirecard employees lost their jobs, and thousands of investors lost a total of €4.5 billion. Why didn't the auditors recognize the fraud? Were they negligent, overextended? 

Symbolbild | Start-ups
Image: Colourbox

The Big Four dominate the global audit industry, and their vast knowledge of company- and tax-law making them indispensable. Because growth opportunities in auditing have largely been exhausted, the Big Four offer a raft of consulting services, not only to the companies they audit but also to governments. Have the Big Four become too powerful -- even out of control? 

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

This documentary explores the role auditors played in the Wirecard scandal, investigates potential conflict of interest within the Big Four, and sheds light on the companies’ role within a complex web of political and economic dependencies.


Broadcasting Hours: 

DW English

WED 27.07.2022 – 01:15 UTC
WED 27.07.2022 – 04:15 UTC
WED 27.07.2022 – 18.15 UTC 
THU 28.07.2022 – 09:15 UTC
SAT 30.07.2022 – 02:15 UTC
SUN 31.07.2022 – 08:15 UTC

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DW Deutsch+

THU 28.07.2022 – 09:15 UTC
SUN 31.07.2022 – 08:15 UTC 

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