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Royal Bank of Canada fined $6 million for flawed accounting practices

Published Nov 06, 2023 06:43AM ET Updated Nov 06, 2023 08:29AM ET
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The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the largest bank in the country, has been ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to pay a $6 million fine due to flawed accounting practices. The SEC's decision comes in response to RBC's inadequate internal accounting controls, which led to inaccuracies in their software project cost accounts over a 12-year period spanning from 2008 to 2020.

The SEC found that RBC had improperly used a single rate for capitalization, which resulted in noncapitalizable costs being included. This misuse of a single rate application for capitalization was identified as a long-standing internal accounting control deficiency within RBC. The bank's capitalization of internally developed software assets dramatically rose from CAD $658 million (U.S. $482 million) in 2011 to CAD $1.1 billion (U.S. $805 million) by 2021 due to these faulty capitalization rates, causing control environment deficiencies and accounting issues.

Attempts at rectification were made with capitalization rate studies initiated in 2017 for better compliance with International Accounting Standard (IAS) 38, but these efforts were deemed insufficient. Despite these issues, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) found no investor harm or material impact on financial statements.

Nicholas P. Grippo, SEC regional director, stressed the importance of accurate financial disclosures in the functioning of capital markets. This case underscores the critical role such disclosures play and the potential repercussions for companies that fail to adhere to these standards.

In response to the SEC's findings, RBC has agreed to halt any future similar misconduct and has committed to paying the $6 million penalty without admitting or denying the SEC's findings. The penalty amount will be offset by payments that RBC has already made to Canadian regulatory authorities for similar violations. As part of its remediation plan, RBC has enhanced internal accounting controls and altered its rate study methodology. The bank has affirmed its commitment to upholding high financial governance standards.

InvestingPro Insights

In light of the recent issues with the SEC, it's crucial to take a closer look at RBC's financial performance. According to InvestingPro's real-time data, RBC has a market cap of 119.08B USD and a P/E ratio of 11.2 as of Q3 2023. The company's revenue in the last twelve months as of Q3 2023 is 40605.66M USD, showing a growth of 9.45%.

InvestingPro Tips also provide valuable insights. Despite the recent regulatory issues, RBC has demonstrated resilience with a history of maintaining dividend payments for 51 consecutive years. This is a testament to the bank's financial stability and commitment to its shareholders. However, it's worth noting that the bank's earnings quality has been low, with free cash flow trailing net income. This could potentially impact future dividend payouts.

For those interested in a more in-depth analysis, InvestingPro offers numerous additional tips and metrics, providing a comprehensive understanding of RBC's financial health and performance.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

Royal Bank of Canada fined $6 million for flawed accounting practices

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