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1.1   Background of the Study

Globalization of capital markets requires a unified global accounting, reporting and disclosure set of standards. As a result of increasing volume of cross border capital flows and the growing number of foreign direct investments via mergers and acquisitions in the globalization era, the need for the harmonization of different practices in accounting and the acceptance of worldwide standards has arisen. This worldwide standard is International financial reporting standards (IFRS). Although, there has been series of contentions as regarding the impact of this standard on the quality of financial statements, but this study will provide a clear understanding of their relationship.

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is a set of principle –based issued and established by International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and generally accepted by different countries around the world to ensure comparability and transparency in accounting practice (Desoky and Mousa, 2014).The establishment of such standards by IASB aimed at achieving harmonization and promotion of financial practices to ensure consistency in reporting format across countries which should minimize cost of processing financial information to investors and improving efficiency of capital markets (Wen et al, 2011). Recently around the world more than 120 countries and reporting jurisdictions required domestic listed companies to prepare their financial statements in accordance with IFRS (Mousa and Desoky, 2014). The adoption and implementation of IFRS has been one of the most important events in accounting history of different countries around the world which induce significant changes in the financial practices (Kousenidis, et al, 2010). However, changes are found to vary among countries and reported to be more serious in countries that had a code-law accounting system (Ball et al., 2000). Before implementation of IFRS, existed accounting system affected by severe government and legalistic influences which is in contrast with a common-law accounting system countries like North America (Kousenidis, et al, 2010). In a common law accounting system there is a proper description of IFRS and accounting is mainly affected by the market practitioners (Ball et al., 2000). With growing acceptance of IFRS by different countries around the world, many researchers aimed to find out empirically whether the new accounting standards has improved the quality of financial statements that is reported to the users. Furthermore, banks’ ability to engender economic growth and development depends on the health, soundness and stability of the system. The need for a strong, reliable and viable banking system is underscored by the fact that the industry is one of the few sectors in which the shareholders’ fund is only a small proportion of the liabilities of the enterprise. It is, therefore, not surprising that the banking industry is one of the most regulated sectors in any economy. It is against this background that the Central Bank of Nigeria, in the maiden address of its current Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, outlined the first phase of its banking sector reforms designed to ensure a diversified, strong and reliable banking industry. The primary objective of the reforms is to guarantee an efficient and sound financial system. The reforms are designed to enable the banking system develop the required resilience to support the economic development of the nation by efficiently performing its functions as the fulcrum of financial intermediation (Lemo, 2005). Thus, the reforms were to ensure the safety of depositors’ money, position banks to play active developmental roles in the Nigerian economy, and become major players in the sub-regional, regional and global financial markets. The key elements of the 13-point reform programme include: Minimum capital base of N25 billion with a deadline of 31st December, 2005; Consolidation of banking institutions through mergers and acquisitions; Phased withdrawal of public sector funds from banks, beginning from July, 2004; Adoption of a risk-focused and rule-based regulatory framework; Zero tolerance for weak corporate governance, misconduct and lack of transparency.

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