At last, reporting suspicion of fraud is being discussed purposefully (Financial war: accountants face call-up, page 7, 11 October). Fraud is fraud, and most accountants are decent people who would not hesitate to report it.
However, when it comes to reporting fraud, the procedures professional bodies impose become more important than the act of reporting fraud itself.
Thus the regulated accountant is more likely to be reluctant to report suspected fraud.
Breaching confidentiality rules set by professional bodies has disastrous consequences for the regulated accountant.
Regulated accountants dare not report suspected fraud as they are at the total mercy of their professional regulator. Often professional bodies with a Royal Charter are not even answerable to UK Courts.
They do not come under the jurisdiction of the Crown via the visitatorial powers of the Lord Chancellor. Even the European Court of Human Rights is unlikely to intervene. Accountants are not likely to publicise their plight for fear of having their cards marked.
Legislation has to be the appropriate remedy. The proposed Emergency Terrorism Bill will help address this problem. We hope it is not watered down by lobbying on behalf of vested interests.
In the meantime, is it right to blame accountancy practitioners when they face hurdles from their own professional bodies? Practitioners must be given freedom to report suspected fraud before they are parodied for not whistle blowing sufficiently.
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