Accountants' role in new anti-crime measures

It's important that any new regulation recognise that for decades accountants have had to know their clients as part of their obligations relating to engagement acceptance

New anti-crime measures may simply duplicate accountants’ existing professional obligations.

CPA Australia has long supported governments to take action in detecting and disrupting money laundering and terrorist financing. Such action is an essential part in tackling organised crime and other illegal activities.

The Australian and New Zealand governments are currently consulting on extending the application of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Financing of Terrorism acts to include providers of accounting and auditing services, through a second tranche of AML legislation.

Over the past months, CPA Australia has given feedback to regulators in Australia and New Zealand on these proposals, suggesting that before any changes are considered, there should be a cost-benefit analysis for bringing accountants under these rules.

Professional Development: Professional ethics: a practical guide

It’s important any new legislation recognises that, for decades, professional accountants have had to know their clients as part of their obligations relating to engagement acceptance. Because of this, CPA Australia believes the cost of extending all existing obligations far outweighs the benefits.

In relation to reporting suspicious transactions, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) recently made changes to its Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, so practitioners can more easily act in the public interest when they come across actual or suspected non-compliance with laws and regulations in their clients’ affairs. 

The Responding to Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations (NOCLAR) addition is expected to be incorporated into APES 110 in 2017, and has already been adopted under PES 1 of the New Zealand Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.

During consultations, CPA Australia has encouraged the New Zealand and Australian governments to harmonise their regimes. The New Zealand government is currently in a formal consultation phase on introducing a second tranche of legislation while the Australian government is still examining options.

CPA Australia’s Client Relationship Guide is an excellent resource to guide members through issues that must be considered or may arise when accepting or farewelling an existing client.

Read next: Return on relationship: How accountants can build client engagement

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October 2021
October 2021

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