The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland has warned that there are more than 120 accountancy firms operating without any regulatory oversight and that a number of them are being run by people who have no qualifications, have served prison time for fraud or were before the courts on fraud charges.
The Institute President Brendan Lenihan said the number of rogue firms in operation was a cause for deep concern. “Quite disturbingly, in a number of rogue cases, the people fronting these unregulated firms have criminal records for fraud or are before the courts. They often give a misleading impression that they have accountancy qualifications.
This system would not be permitted for any other professionals of which we are aware. Because we have registration of medical personnel, you do not need to ask your surgeon to prove his or her basic qualifications before lifting a scalpel.
Unfortunately, people can’t assume the existence of a brass plate outside an office is enough evidence of a professional qualification,” he said.
The Institute is highlighting that there is no legislation in place that prevents anyone from advertising themselves as an accountant even if they have no qualifications, have criminal backgrounds or offer uninsured or substandard services to the public.
“This situation has been allowed to remain for too long, and as a result, too many consumers have suffered financial loss and poor advice. This is clearly not in the public interest and leaves consumers at risk in terms of quality of advice and courses for redress. We call on the Government to act speedily to ensure legislation is in place that protects the consumer.”
Hopefully the Companies Act that is currently being revised and updated will correct this loophole.
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