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Summary of Saiba members subject to sanction for Code breaches

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Saiba is a professional body committed to maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct.

Saiba members should refresh themselves on the expected Code of Conduct as professionals. You can access the code here. Saiba members commit themselves to the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) code of conduct, which is in accordance with international best practice.

The Code outlines the overarching responsibility of the accounting profession:

“A distinguishing mark of the accountancy profession is its acceptance of the responsibility to act in the public interest. A professional accountant’s responsibility is not exclusively to satisfy the needs of an individual client or employee organization. Therefore, the Code contains requirements an application material to enable professional accountants to meet their responsibility to act in the public interest.”

Several Saiba members have been sanctioned over the last two years for breaches of this Code. Fortunately, the number falling into this category is few, but in the interests of transparency, members should understand the nature of the offences and the penalties. It is for this reason that we present the following summary of Saiba members subject to sanction.

  1. Expressing an audit opinion when not an auditor: There were two instances of members expressing an audit opinion on financial statements despite not being registered with  the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (Irba). Subsection 115 of the Code, dealing with the principle of professional conduct, applies. Members who are not registered with Irba may not perform an audit, not hold themselves out to be auditors, or use the name of a registered auditor or act in a way calculated to lead people to believe they are auditors. In both instances, the guilty members were fined R10,000, and were required to register for and complete Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training, The offences were also reported to Irba.
  2. Failure to deliver financial statements or requested documents timeously: There were two instances of members failing to deliver financial statements to clients timeously, or failing to explain discrepancies on financial statements when requested by the client. These instances were found to be in breach of the Code’s obligation on members to act with integrity, Professional competence and due care, and to otherwise behave professionally and in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. In one instance, the member was fined R3,500 and ordered to supply the client with the requested documents and information within one month. In the other instance, the member was fined R6,000, ordered to deliver the financial statements to the client within one months, and to undertake CPD training. The charge sheet reads: “The complainant had also sought relief from SAIBA in relation to the Member’s professional indemnity insurance. However, SAIBA does not have the authority to claim or assist the complainant with claiming against the Member’s professional indemnity insurance and the complainant was directed to take this up with the Member’s professional indemnity insurer directly.”
  3. Failure to deliver financial statements despite being paid by client: There was one instance of a member, acting as accounting officer on behalf of a client, failing to prepare annual statements despite being paid by the client. The member was fined R6,000 for breaches of the Code of Ethics and to refund the client, within 30 days, for work not done.
  4. Fraudulently signing a power of attorney: There was one instance of a member’s employee fraudulently signing a power of attorney on behalf of a client, and under-reporting the client’s VAT affairs to SA Revenue Services (Sars). The member was found guilty of breaching the Code’s prescriptions on professional behaviour and professional competence and due care (Subsections 115 and 120 of the Code apply). The member was fined R6,000 and ordered to complete CPD training.
  5. Failure to pay membership fees and complete CDP training: There was one instance of a member failing to pay membership fees to Saiba and comply with CPD requirements. The member’s membership with Saiba was terminated.

It is gratifying to note that the number of Code breaches is small, and that by far the majority of members take their professional and ethical obligations seriously.

We will from time to time be publishing updated lists of Code breaches and investigations by Saiba so as to remind members to their obligations under the Code of Ethics.