Treasury may be giving the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba) an extension of their powers in the very near future.
A number of changes have been proposed to the Auditing Profession Act by Treasury. The Financial Matters Amendment Bill released last Friday for comment contains details of the proposed amendments.
A memorandum issued by Treasury highlights some of the proposed changes.
It is proposed that the minister of finance be given the discretion to stipulate the maximum fine (currently R 200 000), to be levied against a registered auditor who has crossed the line and been found guilty by Irba’s disciplinary committee.
The bill further proposes that Irba board members should recuse themselves from any profit making audit work while serving on the board, even if they own indirect shares in an audit firm.
Irba will have the power to subpoena anyone during the course of an investigation. This will deter non-cooperation from auditing firms whose employees are being investigated.
The bill states that individuals who have been convicted and who served prison time for more than a year will be prevented from registering as auditors. Further, if an auditor is being investigated, they will be prevented from resigning or from being fired to avoid prosecution.
The bill also includes a change to the Banks Act, where SoEs will now be in a position to apply for banking licences with the joint agreement of the minister of finance and the shareholder minister.
In light of the recent audit scandals, are these changes long overdue?