Kingfisher auditors suggest stronger internal audit system

Kingfisher auditors suggest stronger internal audit system

The auditors of debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines have said the air carrier needs to strengthen its internal audit systems and have raised concerns over numerous issues including delayed or no-payment of dues.

Making some serious observations about the books of accounts of Kingfisher, the auditors in their report for 2011-12 have said the company has prepared its financial statements on a 'going concern' basis, despite its net worth having been completely eroded.

"The appropriateness of the said basis is inter-alia dependent on the company's ability to infuse requisite funds for meeting its obligations, rescheduling of debt and resuming normal operations," said the auditors' report, which form part of Kingfisher Airlines' Annual Report 2011-12, being sent to shareholders ahead of their AGM on September 26.

Kingfisher's net loss more than doubled to Rs 2,328 crore in 2011-12, from Rs 1,027 crore in the previous year. Its total long-term borrowings stood at Rs 5,695 crore as on March 31, 2012, down from Rs 6,306 crore a year ago. Besides, it had short-term borrowings of Rs 2,335 crore at the end of 2011-12, up from Rs 604 crore as on March 31, 2011.

For these loans, the airline has used as security all its movable assets, trademarks, 'goodwill' of the company, credit card and other receivables and a mortgage on Kingfisher House.

The airline has said it expects the government to relax overseas investment norms to allow foreign airlines to pick up equity in domestic players, which would widen its access to equity capital and potential to induct strategic partners.

However, the auditors have drawn shareholders' attention to a number of issues in their report and have gone ahead to say that "the company's internal audit system needs to be strengthened to make the same commensurate with the size and nature of its business." The auditors have also said that they found adequate internal control procedures for inventory purchases, given the management's view that a large number of purchases are of a special nature without any alternative quotations available.

They observed that it did not notice any continuing failure to correct any major weakness in internal controls, but "internal controls in respect of sale of services and purchase of fixed assets (were) to be strengthened."

The auditors further said the company has defaulted in repayment of loans and interest to banks and financial institutions. "Delays were noticed in payment of interest and principal on several occasions during the year (2011-12), while putting the estimated unpaid overdues to banks and institutions at about Rs 780 crore as on March 31, 2012.
Besides, interest aggregating to over Rs 51 crore for the calendar year 2011 were due to debenture holders as on March 31, 2012." The auditors also observed that the airline's accounting of costs incurred on major repairs and maintenance of engines of aircrafts taken on operating lease as on March 31, 2012, of Rs 370 crore (Rs 284 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 122.56 crore in the previous fiscal) have been included under fixed assets and amortized over the estimated useful life of the repairs.

"In our opinion, this accounting treatment is not in accordance with current accounting standards," they said. The auditors have also said that an overall examination of the company's balance sheet shows that funds raised on short-term basis to an aggregate extent of Rs 6,304.44 crore have been used for long term investment as on March 31, 2012.

The auditors said they did not come across any material frauds, on or by the company causing material mis-statements, except for charge backs received by the company from credit card service providers due to mis-utilisation of credit cards by third parties of Rs 92.18 lakh.

They also listed out the dues (with regard to tax deducted at source and service taxes) totalling about Rs 292 crore that have not been deposited with the concerned authorities on account of dispute.

Certain undisputed statutory dues in respect of service tax, withholding taxes and fringe benefit tax dues have also not been regularly deposited with the appropriate authorities.

"Undisputed statutory dues in respect of provident fund, employees' state insurance, investor education and protection fund, wealth tax, customs, excise duty, cess as applicable, have generally been regularly deposited with the appropriate authorities barring few months," the auditors said.

The undisputed amounts payable in respect of tax deducted at source of Rs 539.38 crore, service tax of Rs 198 crore, professional tax of Rs 8.61 Lacs, fringe benefit tax of Rs 55.87 lakh, gratuity to resigned employees of Rs 25.39 lakh were outstanding for a period of more than six months from the date they became payable, the auditors said.

Also, the company has taken loans from three related party entities with the total loan amount outstanding as at year-end was Rs 151 crore. "No stipulations for repayment have been prescribed and as such no comments regarding regularity of payments are being made," the auditors said.

Regarding related party transactions, the auditors further said the contracts or arrangements with such entities have been entered into at reasonable prices when compared to similar services rendered to/by other parties, except in the case of advertisement and sales promotional expenses of Rs 394.98 crore and miscellaneous income of Rs 707.76 crore.

The auditors said they are "unable to make any comments on reasonability of (these) rates since there were no similar transactions with third parties at the relevant time."

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