A partner in one of the big four accounting firms has called for “severe consequences” for accounting professionals who fail to comply with the ethics of the profession.
According to Ernst & Young’s assurance and advisory business services partner Rendra Gopee, there must be accountability and “appropriate” consequences for inappropriate action or behaviour.
“I strongly believe that many of the wrongdoings that have emerged in the world are [the] result of wavering from the fundamental principles enshrined in our code of ethics and the departure [from] the values that should underpin every decision we make,” he said.
He made the comments during a presentation to the recent Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Audit Roundtable at Hilton Barbados.
He reminded those gathered that the fundamental principles of the profession included integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality and professional behaviour.
Gopee also questioned what progress had been made to secure legislative changes in Barbados to ensure that all professional accountants become members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados and were therefore subjected to the requisite inspection and accountability.
The Ernst & Young partner stressed that the International Federation of Accountants code of conduct for professional accountants said that a distinguishing mark of the accountancy profession was acceptance of the responsibility to act in the public’s interest.
“Therefore, a professional accountant’s responsibility is not exclusively to satisfy the needs of an individual client or employer,” he said.
On the issue of whether audit inspection activities could do more to improve audit quality and make it more transparent to users, he said it was important that all such activities drive the requisite action and behaviour by all professional accountants to meet quality requirements.
He queried a number of issues, including whether the remediation requirements or other consequences instituted after inspections were adequate.
“Should inspection findings of those firms who have simply not responded adequately to the remediation actions required from inspection findings be communicated publicly?” he asked.