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Auditing in the UAE- All The Crucial Factors

January 25, 2023
Fortius Team
A magnifying glass with a focus on the word audit written in golden letters and other accounting words over black background.

Doubtlessly, financial credibility is always linked with a company's success. So, when there are disparities or discrepancies in your fiscal records, your business could incur a significant loss. In such situations, business advisory services in the UAE such as Fortius can assist your company in coming to terms with the situation and realising the lost benefits. With our experienced and capable auditors, you can expect various long term benefits.

In addition, audited financial statements are essential for a variety of economic activities. This also includes dealing with banking and financial institutions especially when a business needs a loan. Occasionally, the relevant authorities in the UAE may request to examine your audited books of account and other financial statements. So, you must consider conducting an audit of your financing accounting documents for the advantage of your business.

However, undergoing an audit is not simple, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the complexities required to carry out the full procedure successfully. This guide will give you a comprehensive understanding of how audits function, the documents required, and the types of audits you are mandated to perform in the UAE.

Is Auditing Mandatory for all UAE businesses?

By law, all UAE-based businesses must have their accounting information audited by a licensed auditing firm. The audit must be conducted in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and the results must be submitted within six months of the end of the fiscal year to the UAE Ministry of Economy.

The UAE requires businesses to maintain financial records for a minimum of five years. This condition is specified in the implementing regulations of several free zones. However, JAFZA, one of the UAE's free zones, has mandated that Free Zones companies (FZCO) and Free Zone establishments (FZE) keep financial records for a minimum of six years.

What Kinds of Audits Can be Undertaken in the UAE?

If you continue to operate a company in the UAE, you must have your financial records audited annually to ensure you have everything in order. Auditors examine the books, IT, and compliance requirements of a company to ensure they are on the right track. The following provides a brief overview of the kinds of audits which can be undertaken in the UAE.

  1. Internal Auditing: Firms conduct this type of audit to determine where internal controls, operating efficiency, or compliance can be improved. A company's risk management practices and adherence to regional and global best practices can be determined through an internal audit.
  2. External Auditing: During an external audit, auditors examine the books and records of transactions and balances, and they may verify certain elements of the financial disclosures with third parties, such as banks, customers, and suppliers. At the conclusion, the auditors will provide a report.
  3. Forensic auditing: Firms specialising in forensic auditing in the UAE monitor as well as investigate incidences of financial transgressions, fraud, and corporate disputes.
  4. Sales audit: Retail businesses operating in UAE shopping malls are mandated to disclose a Statement of Gross Turnover that has been audited by an authorised auditor. This provision is based on the Lease Agreement's clauses.
  5. Tax auditing: The Federal Tax Authority, in accordance with the Tax Procedures Law, conducts reviews of a company's financial records and other relevant information and data to ensure compliance with UAE tax legislation (Federal Decree-Law no. 7). As part of its mission to implement the UAE VAT Law and the Tax Procedures Law, the FTA conducts tax audits of taxable firms.

Audits provide businesses with the assurance that their financial statements accurately represent their financial position. In addition, it can assist companies in determining areas where their financial control and reporting processes can be enhanced.

A Comprehensive Guide to Documents Necessary for a Fruitful Audit

Before undergoing an audit, businesses must organise their documents in accordance with accepted standards. You are obligated to respond to the auditors' questions throughout the annual audit. The following documents should be prepared for annual audits in the UAE:

1. Payroll Reports: The payroll report aids the auditor in analysing the wage expense. An auditor can determine whether or not all active workers are earning the appropriate pay rates per their labour contracts.

2. List of bank accounts: You should be prepared with a list of all bank accounts, including the bank name, account number, and authorised signers. The concerned auditors will also mandate bank balance verification from the bank.

3. Duplicates of statutory documents: All documents pertaining to the company's incorporation must be readily accessible during the auditing process in the UAE. Included in this list are your business licence, Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), share certificates, and certificate of incorporation.

4. Board Meeting Minutes: The auditor will review the minutes of meetings of the board during the audit. The minutes contain information regarding the financial statements that are required, and now the Economic Substance Regulations impose the same requirement on companies conducting relevant activities.

5. List and evidence of all transactions: At the time of the audit, you must provide a list and evidence of all transactions that occurred in your company during a specific time period. It should be supported by all invoices and receipts for purchases.

6. General Ledger: In accounting and bookkeeping, the general ledger is a crucial document that contains a record of all the transaction data of your business over a specific time period.

7. Trial Balance: Auditors are always eager to examine your trial balance because all of the numbers in your company's financial statements can be mapped to the trial balance.

8. Copies of loans, leases, and material Contracts: In accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, you must provide the auditor with information regarding loans, leases, and in some cases, material contracts.

9. Loan statements: Every business will incur debts, some of which will be bad debts. A certified public accountant confirms the loan statements to affirm all debts with creditors.

10. VAT returns: Every VAT registrant is required to submit a VAT Return to the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) at the conclusion of each tax period. Article 64 of the VAT Decree-Implementing Law's Regulations stipulates that the FTA must obtain the VAT Return no later than the 28th day after the end of the tax period.

11.AML: An auditor must determine whether or not your company's Anti-Money Laundering (AML) programme is sufficient.

A Brief Look at Auditing Process in the UAE

Now that you're familiar with all of the nuances of the auditing procedures in UAE, here are the seven audit process steps in UAE

  • Step 1: Evaluation of previous audits.
  • Step 2: Receiving a notice from the Office of Internal Audit Services.
  • Step 3: Discussion of the audit programme and schedule.
  • Step 4: Discussions with personnel from concerned departments.
  • Step 5: Report creation by the auditors based on received data.
  • Step 6: Sending the audit report to concerned regional and national authorities.
  • Step 7: Company management’s response to the findings in the audit report.

Auditing in the UAE in a Nutshell

Businesses are required to conduct annual audits in order to achieve adequate compliance with accounting standards. Several reputable auditing firms in the UAE provide auditing services to UAE businesses. At Fortius, we develop a thorough understanding of your organisation's structure and culture to provide you first-rate business advisory services inclusive of auditing. Give us a call today!

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Fortius Consulting Services is a trusted name for business consulting and CFO services in the UAE, Singapore and India. Through our expert consulting and advisory services,we assist organisations across the UAE & Asia to boost their profitability, improve operational effectiveness, increase management capability, institutionalise strategies, and upgrade their internal structures.


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