Accountants sign up to tougher supervision

The tax authorities and the financial services watchdog AFM are toughening up their supervision of inadmissable behaviour by accountants, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Monday.

Until recently, the tax authorities were not allowed to pass on to the AFM any information or suspicions about fraud or other deception. A convenant between the two organisations and the Dutch accountants’ association NBA now makes this possible, says the paper.
‘This is about accountants who misrepresent their own tax returns or who are involved with suspect clients,’ AFM director Berry Wammes told the FD. ‘It concerns everything that can bring the profession into disrepute, including objectivity and independence.’
When complaints or signals regarding individual accountants are picked up by the tax authorities, these will now be passed on to the NBA which will decide what steps to take.
With wrong-doing and deception as a result of bad management at an accounting firm. the AFM will be brought in to carry out an investigation.
‘These are cases we have not been able to investigate while the tax authorities could not pass them on to us,’ an AFM spokesman told the FD.
The NBA’s Wammes says the convenant will not lead to a revolution in accountancy but it will go a long way towards repairing confidence in the sector.
“The NBA and the AFM have more experts who can judge wrong-doing,’ he told the paper. ‘This will relieve the burden on the tax authorities and speed up the process.’
The Netherlands has 20,000 accountants. The number of cases brought against them in 2011 rose 20% to 164 on the year-earlier period.

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