Audit team members avoid joint charges

Audit team members avoid joint charges

Audit teams will not face joint prosecutions for reckless auditing in an attempt to get at one rotten apple, the government has insisted.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Vera Baird told the Commons, where the bill
has just finished its passage, last week: ‘If there is no evidence against a
particular team member, there will be no prosecution.

‘The offence deals with cases in which there is sufficient evidence, and
absolutely nothing in the clause would allow all team members to be prosecuted
in the hope that one could be caught,’ she said.

The comments will reassure those who have
attacked the clause introduced in the bill
.

Baird clarified the new offence: ‘To prove someone has behaved recklessly, it
is necessary to show that the auditor was aware that an action, or a failure to
act – the latter is probably much more likely – carried risks; that they knew
that the risks were not reasonable ones to take; and that despite knowing this,
they went ahead anyway.’

The government faced seperate difficulties this week when criticised by
business groups over ‘blunderbuss’ clauses in the bill about disclosing supply
chains.

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