The intentional manipulation of accounting numbers used to be a subject of interest in accounting and finance literature since long time, but it gains much attention the recent years because of the revelations about financial frauds at most successful firms.
The collapse of many companies, starting with of Enron in 2001 and ending with Lehman Bothers in 2009, damaged seriously the confidence in accounting numbers and the ability of financial markets to price financial assets correctly. The reason is certainly what was mentioned by Tillman and Indergaard (2007) in their Report to the Institute for Fraud Prevention: the propagation of corruption and accounting scandals from “fly-by-night” companies to highly trusted and familiar organizations. According to Rezaee (2005), the market capitalization losses caused by the frauds in financial statements reported by WorlCom, Enron, Qwest, Tyco, and Global Crossing are estimated at 460 $ billion.
The paper addresses the link between the board of directors’ independence and financial statement fraud in MENA countries. The study investigates a sample of 64 Tunisian companies. The results support the importance of family members and tenure of outside directors in increasing the probability of fraud. It is shown also that the presence of outside directors is not an efficient mechanism to prevent from financial statement fraud.