Does the Mafia Hire Good Accountants?
55 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2021 Last revised: 16 Dec 2021
Date Written: November 5, 2021
We investigate if organized crime groups (OCG) are able to hire good accountants. We use data about criminal records to identify Italian accountants with connections to OCG. While the work accountants do for the OCG ecosystem is not observable, we can determine if OCG hire “good” accountants by assessing the overall quality of their work as external monitors of legal businesses. We find that firms serviced by accountants with OCG connections have higher quality audited financial statements compared to a control group of firms serviced by accountants with no OCG connections. The findings provide evidence OCG are able to hire good accountants, despite the downside risk of OCG associations. Results are robust to controls for self-selection, for other determinants of auditor expertise, direct connections of directors and shareholders to OCG, and corporate governance mechanisms that might influence auditor choice and audit quality.
Keywords: accountant connections to organized crime, accountant criminal record, criminal investigations, financial reporting quality
JEL Classification: G31,G32,G38, K42, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation