Using data from the Chinese market where related party transactions (RPTs) are particularly prevalent, we examine how the independent auditor responds to the potentially heightened risk of RPTs and the efficacy of the auditor's response. First, we find that the auditor is more likely to issue a modified audit opinion that specifically discusses RPTs (RPTMAO) to firms reporting higher related sales or related lending, but not to firms reporting higher RPTs of other categories (i.e., related purchases, related borrowing, and related assets/equity transactions). These findings suggest that the auditor alerts investors to the possibility of earnings management and/or expropriation risk from related sales or related lending through audit opinions. The positive relation between related sales and RPTMAO is driven by related sales with nonmarket-based or undisclosed pricing policy and related sales above the industry average. Second, RPTMAO has robust predictive power for future RPT-related restatements, and the predictive power is greater than that of modified opinions that do not specifically discuss RPTs, suggesting that the auditor is effective at communicating the risk associated with RPTs through opinion modifications, especially RPTMAOs.

JEL Classifications: M49

Data Availability: Data used in this study are available from public sources.

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