Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, filed an official complaint, yesterday, with the country’s highest accountancy
body, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana (ICAG), against the head of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur.
The official complaint, which was prompted by the illegal release of tax information, said that Commissioner-General Khurshid Sattaur is guilty of misconduct in office by his acts.
This newspaper, in recent weeks, published details which revealed a shocking plot by top Government officials, in collaboration with Sattaur, to go after a number of private newspapers and news entities that have been highly critical of projects and the way taxpayers’ dollars are being spent.
Kaieteur News has been at the brunt of the offence by Government which has been under increasing criticisms for a number of questionable contracts and deals with investors.
By law, GRA is bound to keep secret tax and other financial information filed by taxpayers.
Emails were sent by Sattaur to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, and to former President Bharrat Jagdeo. However, the tax information was only released to Jagdeo, according to evidence revealed to Kaieteur News.
The tax information on Kaieteur News was not included, but Sattaur spoke of intentions to release these once a number of safeguards are in place.
There has been widespread condemnation after those revelations of the tax leaks, with questions asked about which other businesses may have suffered.
According to the letter sent yesterday to the ICAG, Lall said that Sattaur, as a Chartered Accountant, was in breach of a statutory Declaration of Secrecy and of the law when he provided information concerning the tax affairs of several newspaper publishing companies to the former President.
The complaint also included the copies of emails from Sattaur to Jagdeo and the Attorney General.
“While only of tangential importance, the emails demonstrate that Mr. Sattaur, who is the Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, is using his position in an improper manner amounting to professional misconduct,” the complaint by Lall said.
“In view of the seriousness of this matter and the impact it has on the reputation of the accountancy profession for probity, integrity and professionalism, I would welcome prompt action to address my complaint.”
ICAG recently said that it stands for transparency and accountability, and that it takes accusations of breach of professional ethics by its members seriously.
ICAG is the body responsible for the regulation of the accounting profession in Guyana under the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana Act 1991.
It is a public interest body whose objectives include the promotion and increase of the proficiency of its members and regulation of the conduct of its members.
The ICAG is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC), the regional body. Monitoring is conducted by the ACCA.
Council members of the ICAG said that the Kaieteur News or any member of the public, for that matter, is free to file a complaint against any of its members believed to be unjust in their profession.
The members explained that every affiliate of the Institute is required to respect the confidentiality of information acquired.
Kaieteur News was informed that once the report is made to the Institute, an investigation would be launched for the gathering of the necessary evidence. Once that aspect is completed, the relevant disciplinary action would be taken.
“While the council has taken note of the email published by the Kaieteur News, it is not protocol for us to just start an investigation on one of our members without a basis.
“The most suitable basis for us is an official complaint and Kaieteur News is free to do that. It is not normal for the institute to go after its members, and there has never been something like this before on Sattaur. We would invite Mr. Lall to make a report and bring the evidence he has,” a member had disclosed.
On the website of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), of which Sattaur is a member, it said that members are required to observe proper standards of professional conduct. ACCA will take disciplinary action against its members, firms and registered students where there is evidence of a sufficiently serious failure to observe those standards.
It was also stated that once ACCA receives a complaint, it may decide to proceed with its investigation, despite a later request by the complainant for it to be withdrawn.
A senior Opposition Parliamentarian, Joseph Harmon, has since vowed to file charges against Sattaur, making it clear that the people have lost confidence in him.
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