Significant Features of the Internal Control and Risk Management System with Regard to the Group Financial Reporting Process
The Consolidated Financial Statements are prepared by a unit in the Corporate Finance department. The Consolidated Financial Statements are derived from the separate financial statements of the subsidiaries and joint operations, taking into account the relevant data for the joint ventures and associated companies accounted for using the equity method. The BASF Group’s accounting process is based on a uniform accounting guideline that, alongside accounting policies based on the International Financial Reporting Standards applicable in the European Union, defines the significant processes and deadlines for the Group. There are binding directives for the internal reconciliations and other accounting operations within the Group. Standard software is used to carry out the accounting processes for the preparation of the individual financial statements as well as for the Consolidated Financial Statements. There are clear rules for the access rights of each participant in these processes.
Employees involved in the accounting and reporting process meet the qualitative requirements and participate in training on a regular basis. There is a clear assignment of responsibilities between the specialist units, companies and service units involved. We strictly adhere to the principles of segregation of duties and dual control, or the “four-eyes principle.” Complex actuarial reports and evaluations are produced by specialized service providers or specially qualified employees.
An internal control system for financial reporting continuously monitors these principles. To this end, methods are provided to ensure that evaluation of the internal control system in financial reporting is structured and uniform across the BASF Group. They also work in accordance with the international risk management standard, COSO II Enterprise Risk Management – Integrated Framework.
Material risks for the BASF Group regarding a reliable control environment for proper financial reporting are reviewed and updated on an annual basis. Risks are compiled into a central risk catalog.
Moreover, a centralized selection process identifies companies that are exposed to particular risks, that are material to the Consolidated Financial Statements of the BASF Group, or that provide service processes. The selection process is conducted annually. Persons responsible for implementing the requirements for an effective control system in financial reporting are appointed at the relevant companies.
The process for identifying, evaluating, managing and controlling risks related to preparing the Consolidated Financial Statements as well as monitoring these processes in the selected companies comprises the following steps:
- Evaluation of the control environment
Adherence to internal and external guidelines that are relevant to the maintenance of a reliable control environment is checked by means of a standardized questionnaire.
- Identification and documentation of control activities
In order to mitigate the risks to the financial reporting processes listed in our central risk catalog, critical processes and control activities are documented.
- Assessment of control activities
After documentation, a review is performed to verify whether the described controls are capable of adequately covering the risks. In the subsequent test phase, spot checks are carried out to test whether, in practice, the controls were executed as described and effective.
- Monitoring of control weaknesses
The responsible managers receive reports on any control weaknesses identified and their resolution; and an interdisciplinary committee investigates their relevance to the BASF Group. The Board of Executive Directors and the Audit Committee are informed if control weaknesses with a considerable impact on financial reporting are identified. Only after material control weaknesses have been resolved does the company’s managing director confirm the effectiveness of the internal control system.
- Internal confirmation of the internal control system
All managing directors and chief financial officers of each consolidated Group company must confirm to the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE every half-year and at the end of the annual cycle, in writing, that the internal control system is effective with regard to accounting and reporting.