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Difficulties with previous accountant

Possible AML/fraud issues?

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We've been asked to take on a ltd company who despite efforts to make contact hasn't heard from their previous accountant in 2 years. This client has no idea about their company responsibilities and has been completely reliant on the accountant to inform them if/when things need doing.

We've checked with companies house and the following issues have arisen:

  • Confirmation statement is 2 months overdue. All 3 previous confirmation statements were overdue to the extent that Companies House requested a strike off each time and then the statement was submitted.
  • The company address and director personal addresses are various previous addresses for the previous accountant. The accountant now uses one of these addresses to run an entirely different (not accountancy related) business, but is still there so still receiving their company post.
  • The accountant submitted the previous year accounts without communicating with them or getting their confirmation. They tried to contact the accountant because they were aware the accounts were due but got no response. From what we can tell the accountant logged in to their online software and used figures from there.
  • Both director's date of births on Companies House are incorrect - by about 30 years, and the months are incorrect too.
  • The accountant hasn't charged them for anything in the past two years even though they have "apparently" done their accounts and confirmation statement.

We've now come in and written to the previous accountant to request professional clearance. Time is of the essence so we can get the confirmation statement sorted before Companies House tries to strike them off again. Also we'd like to check whether a corporation tax return was filed with HMRC or not when the accounts were submitted to CH last year as the client has no idea about this. 

After receiving our professional clearance request the accountant contacted the client and said they were very disappointed to hear they don't want to use their services anymore and wants to meet them in person to discuss it. In the meantime they won't be sending us the requested info.

If they've not been charging them anything for 2 years, and are now running an entirely different business - why are they upset/surprised that they're leaving? 

What on earth is going on? Is this accountant simply bad at his job, or is there something more sinister going on? The accountant is not registered with any accountancy body so I can't bring my concerns to them. Is there any chance there is some sort of AML/fraud issue here? Can I report this situation to CH or HMRC or anyone as accounts are being submitted without consent and incorrect DOBs and addresses put on CH?

Any advice is much appreciated


Replies (8)

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panda ketteringUK
By ketteringUK
24th May 2019 18:57

just move on and sort your the new client out and hopefully you'll get repeated business and recommendations.

they're plenty cowboys out there. not worth the chargeable time to complain, etc.

we stopped counting how many times we sent prof clearance and never got anything back.

As part of the take on we issue LOE, 64-8 , FBI2 but also have a letter (authority) signed by client that we send to CAM with request to provide us with UTR, PAYE Ref, SA UTR, VAT, etc. It takes time but usually within 4-5 weeks HMRC sends us all the details which then we can write on 64-8 / FBI2.

re; CS01 - at the end of the day it's directors' responsibility and the letter gets send to the registered address so no point in blaming the accountants for it.

If you are an experienced practitioner then, by now, you should know that the fault usually lies 50/50. Many clients (lower tier ones) are not exactly good in providing info, online 64-8 codes, etc. If you are new - then you will learn this hard truth. Poor accountants = poor clients as most of them, initially, just care about the fees. Classic - You get what you pay.

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Replying to ketteringUK:
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
25th May 2019 16:03

“also have a letter (authority) signed by client that we send to CAM with request to provide us with UTR, PAYE Ref, SA UTR, VAT, etc.”

What’s CAM?

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
By Wanderer
25th May 2019 17:13

Central Agent Maintainer Team, same as Central Agent Authorisation Team.

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nsa newquay
By adam kay
24th May 2019 19:13

Yeah we’ve also had issues in the past with professional clearance not coming through and we proceed without it if necessary. but what about AML and fraud checks? If the accountant has used incorrect dates of birth, addresses and is submitting accounts without their consent, is this not classed as fraud? Being registered for AML we are all obviously accountable to sort/report fraudulent activity but this activity is not by the client, so is it simply nothing to do with the new accountant?

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By Matrix
24th May 2019 19:26

Look up the RP07 form for a disputed address if you don’t get the authentication code. If you want to give it one more go then advise the client to decline the meeting and ask the ex accountant if they would provide professional clearance and handover information to the new accountants.

Then go through the records against the returns. If you really have a suspicion then report it.

Although I would not get involved personally and would be cautious with the client.

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By Retired Dave
24th May 2019 20:17

I don't see what grounds you have to make you suspect fraud, incompetence or disinterest maybe.
Seems odd that he never charged them, but perhaps there's an innocent explanation.

Personally I would just get on with rectifying the situation and not get involved in reporting what seem to be at best imagined suspicions with nothing to support them.

As this client hasn't paid for 2 years I'd also be very careful about getting your fees paid in stages with a bit up front.

Thanks (2)
By andy.partridge
24th May 2019 22:37

Maybe it’s the client that’s weird.

Phone the accountant yourself and make your own judgement.

Thanks (1)
By bernard michael
25th May 2019 10:24

As an early move I would get the RO changed ASAP either to yours or the client's address

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