Mike Jones, financial director of the TUC, said trade unions in the UK already made use of a small base of accountants with specific experience in the sector and were subject to ‘stringent regulations’. He added: ‘The existing system works perfectly well.’
His comments came in response to suggestions by Kay Linell, the forensic accountant responsible for the first-ever prosecution of a UK trade union for reporting failures, that trade unions should only use auditors ‘preapproved by the certification office’, rather than be allowed to select an auditor ‘from the high street’.
But Jones rejected this suggestion saying: ‘If trade unions are forced to choose auditors from a preapproved list, then why aren’t businesses required to do the same.’
Currently all trade unions have to submit annual reports by a due date to the certification office, the body responsible for ensuring that trade unions and employers’ associations keep proper accounting records.
Linell, a partner at Morley & Scott and a certified fraud examiner, was appointed in September 1999 to investigate the financial affairs of the Hospitality Association of Northern Ireland. Her findings, that HANI had failed to keep proper accounting records and maintain a satisfactory system of controls of its accounting records, and a number of other complaints that she made, led to the successful prosecution of the employers’ association by the Belfast police.
HANI pleaded guilty to the charges and was forced to pay a fine of £500 plus costs of £5,000. In addition, it has also been forced to submit a revised annual return.
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Certification Officer said HANI would be prosecuted again if it failed to submit these documents.
A HANI representative declined to comment.
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