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Falsifications et manipulations comptables

  • Praquin, Nicolas
  • Lemarchand, Yannick

During the nineteenth century, the development of joint-stock companies and the take-off of capital markets confered a new dimension to accounting. The only guarantee offered to third parties was that the capital of a limited company had to remain intact, thus it was left to accounting to provide a measure of results that guaranteed this maintenance. Moreover, as the information provided by the accounting process could play a role in financial capital allocation, the method left the narrow domain of business and the profit measure became a social stake. All the more, the lack of serious scientific foundations and the absence of almost any specific regulation, this measure was frequently the object of manipulations, indeed falsifications of which investors were the first victims ; whether it were a case of overestimating results or, in the opposite, of concealing profits. However, if in the face of scandals, reinforced by the reactions of shareholders, public opinion was sometimes aroused and if reflections on the problem of evaluation progressed during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the State and the Parliament were deaf to all proposals for regulation. The business milieu was hostile thus it was left to the court to rule on the matter; examining these accounting practices, jurisprudence determined a number of fundamental accounting concepts. Only after the government itself was placed amongst the beneficiaries of profit, following the settlement of income tax during the First World War, did the State decide to intervene.

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Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/322.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Comptabilité Contrôle Audit, 2005, Vol. 11, no. spécial. pp. 15-34.Length: 19 pages
Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/322
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