Institute must learn its ethics lesson

Just to recap for those of you who have missed it, questions have been asked
about the wisdom of awarding of a lucrative training contract in China by the
ICAEW to Emile Wolf, where Durgan happens to be the majority shareholder.

While there is no suggestion of any underhand behaviour, the story has raised
some difficulties for the institute, not least in how it is perceived by the
outside world. This is especially the case given that the ICAEW’s chief
executive only last week hailed integrity as one of the three central tenets
guiding the work of the body.

While Durgan has doubtless had no role in the awarding of the contract, the
view from the outside will not look good. Perception can sometimes prove
everything in circumstances like these. A committee of past presidents is now
examining how the contract was made and will report back. Thankfully, the
institute has moved quickly.

Other writers on Accountancy Age blogs have pointed out the options
– the institute can stand by its man, uphold the contract, and hope the
controversy just goes away; it could kill the contract with Emile Wolf and stick
with Durgan, or find a new president. But it is important that the institute
doesn’t only look at this incident but generally review its processes for
awarding contracts.

What the institute should consider is bringing in some independent figures to
review its procedures. It is possibly only then that members and clients will be

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