On April 26, 2021, the Auditing Profession Act, 2005, was amended by Act 5 of 2021. In a bid to strengthen the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors’ (IRBA’s) investigation powers and promote the efficiency of investigation processes, the amendments introduced section 48A and 48B, which empowers the IRBA to conduct search and seizures for the purpose of investigations into improper conduct by registered auditors and registered candidate auditors. The IRBA has today published its procedure guide outlining how this process will work.
The guide is open for 30 calendar days to allow interested and affected parties to submit comments. The closing date for comments is September 13, 2021.
Says Imre Nagy, Acting CEO of the IRBA: “The addition of these provisions in the Act aims to facilitate access to information during an investigation, by empowering the Investigating Committee to authorise suitably qualified persons to enter premises and search and seize information that is necessary for the investigation of a complaint of improper conduct. This will enable the IRBA to conduct unhindered investigations and deliver on its legislated mandate more effectively.
“We recognise that search and seizure powers, when not properly exercised, could encroach on constitutional rights. Therefore, to ensure the proper and lawful exercise of search and seizure powers, we have developed this procedure guide to inform those conducting search and seizures on what the appropriate power of the IRBA is in relation to search and seizure. The guide also sets out in broader terms, the procedure to be followed in exercising such powers, as well as the rights and obligations of those subjected to a search and seizure in terms of section 48A and/or 48B.
“The authorised person conducting a search and seizure will only enter premises with consent or a warrant issued by a Court, and may only seize information that is relevant, or believed to be relevant, to an investigation. This could include paper records, electronic records, as well as records stored in any other form. The guide further sets out procedures to ensure that search and seizure is conducted in a decent and orderly manner.
Concludes Nagy: “All comments received on the procedure guide will be collated for evaluation and then implemented wherever possible.”
The procedure guide is available for download at https://www.irba.co.za/news–events/apaa-implementation-information