Institute warning over 'rogue' Irish firms
Irish accountancy body Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) has warned that there are 120 unregulated accountancy firms in operation in Ireland, some of which are run by individuals with fraud charges or convictions.
The CAI and other Irish accountancy bodies carried out their first census of accounting firms in Ireland recently. This showed that there are 2,000 state supervised firms and 120 ‘rogue’ or unregulated ones.
In a number of unregulated firms, the body said, those running them have no qualifications or criminal records for fraud or are before the courts on fraud charges.
Irish accountancy firms associated with a professional body are regulated by the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA), but it is not mandatory.
The census was carried out on a list of firms who provide accountancy services to the public in Ireland.
CAI president Brendan Lenihan said that the findings make for “disturbing reading” at a time when many in financial difficulty in the current economic climate in Ireland are seeking accountants’ advice for the first time.
“This system would not be permitted for any other professionals of which we are aware.
“Because we have registration of medical personnel, you don’t need to ask your surgeon to prove his or her basic qualifications before lifting a scalpel,” he said.
The body argues that regulation is important to build in consumer protections, for example checking the practitioner carries professional indemnity insurance, has independent quality checks carried out and ensures that all complaints are independently investigated.
“This situation has been allowed to remain for too long, and as a result, too many consumers have suffered financial loss and poor advice,” Lenihan said.
The CAI and other Irish bodies have presented their census findings to the Irish government and IAASA, and said it wants legislation making it mandatory for firms to be regulated by an independent state agency, to ensure consumers are protected.