Responsible for investigating the work and conduct of accountants in cases of major public interest, the body’s high profile work has resulted in large fines against firms involved in such scandals as the Maxwell affair and the Resort Hotels fraud case.
But it is due to be replaced by a new Independent Disciplinary Board, scheduled to start work in October. This will be one of a number of subsidiary boards of the Accountancy Foundation, set up to end decades of self-regulation in the accountancy profession in Britain and Ireland.
The Foundation was due to be up and running almost two years ago: delays have been blamed on indecision over funding and constitutional policy.
However, this week a Foundation spokesman confirmed that the IDB will only be taking on new cases. ‘It will not deal with anything the JDS is currently investigating,’ he said.
JDS executive counsel Chris Dickson, whose tenure finishes at the end of 2002, currently has ten cases still under investigation, including investigations involving BCCI, Polly Peck, Versailles and Semple Cochrane.
Investigations can often last up to two years, while the preparation of independent tribunals to hear the cases and the possibility of appeals can considerably lengthen the process.
Lord Gordon Borrie, former head of the Office of Fair Trading, is heading up the new Foundation, while Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, is to head a review board, which will oversee the IDB and the two other arms; the Auditing Practices Board and the Ethics Standards Board.
Of key importance in the Foundation’s criteria is that board members must be independent from the organised accountancy profession or practice. All Foundation bodies must be comprised of 60% lay persons and 40% accountants.
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