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Exam Cheating at KPMG, Deloitte’s & EY


It has been reported in several media outlets that Hundreds of staff at the Dutch division of KPMG cheated on professional exams and misled investigators, resulting in the Big Four accountancy firm being hit with a record $25 million fine from America’s audit regulator.

This is the latest ethics scandal to engulf a Big Four accountancy firm, which has now been fined for cheating on exams. Yesterday, the American audit regulator also fined Deloitte’s businesses in the Philippines and Indonesia $1 million each for answer-sharing on professional tests. Two years ago, EY was hit with a $100 million fine from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which found that a “significant number” of its American auditors had cheated on the ethics component of their Certified Public Accountant exams. In addition to the firm’s penalty, the largest ever handed out by the regulator, a $150,000 fine was imposed on Marc Hogeboom, who used to run KPMG’s Dutch audit division, and he was banned for life from working for a firm that audits American public companies.


The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in the United States found that between 2017 and 2022, hundreds of KPMG workers in the Netherlands, including senior partners and managers, had shared questions and answers with one another. This included exams they had to sit to test their understanding of professional ethics.

The American regulator also criticised KPMG Netherlands for lying to its investigators, having insisted that the accounting group only knew answer-sharing once a whistleblower had raised it in July 2022.

The regulator said.

  • “These submissions, reviewed by the firm’s management board and supervisory board, were false because members of those two boards had themselves already engaged in answer-sharing misconduct before July 2022,”
  • “The PCAOB will not tolerate cheating nor any other unethical behaviour, period,”
  • “Impaired ethics threaten the investor confidence our system relies on, and the PCAOB will take action to hold firms accountable when they fail to enforce a culture of honesty and integrity.”

Stephanie Hottenhuis, the chief executive of KPMG in the Netherlands, said

  • The regulator’s findings were “damning”.
  • “I deeply regret that this misconduct happened in our firm. Our clients and stakeholders deserve our apology. They count on our quality and integrity as this is our societal role, with trust as our licence to operate. Trust is essential in our business, and we must learn from this and make a change in our culture and behaviour.”
  • That those involved in the cheating, “at all levels of seniority”, had been sanctioned, while a number had left the firm. Controls have been brought in to monitor whether tests are being completed appropriately.



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