The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana has fired back at the Commissioner General of the Guyana
Revenue Authority (GRA) Khurshid Sattaur, maintaining that it is within its remit to investigate any of its members.
The ICAG was at the time responding to a public missive penned by Sattaur who had complained of an alleged bias on the part of the accounting body, following a complaint that was lodged over a breach of confidence on the part of Sattaur when he released confidential tax information to the former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Sattaur had questioned how is it that he is being subjected to disciplinary proceedings by the Council’s Disciplinary Committee when he is not engaged in public practice and therefore not subject to the ethics that professional accountants subscribe to.
He said that he is a public servant and carries out a statutory function prescribed in law.
Sattaur said further that the action by ICAG suggests extreme bias and lack of knowledge of their own bylaws.
Sattaur called on the Council to “stop this charade and travesty immediately.”
The accounting body has since fired back at Sattaur, pointing out that he made a number of inaccurate assertions.
ICAG maintains that the Institute is a statutory body established under the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana Act 1991.
The objects of the Institute are clearly defined in that Act and include, inter alia, “to regulate the discipline and professional conduct of its members and its registered students by maintaining a strict standard of professional ethics”.
According to ICAG, the Institute is not a subsidiary of any professional body resident in the United Kingdom, but as a regulatory and disciplinary body has an independent statutory mandate in Guyana.
It said, too, that by Section 6 of the Act, the direction, control and management of the affairs of the Institute are vested with a Council which comprises eight members of the Institute and that the Council is empowered under the Act to appoint various sub-committees, including an Investigations Committee and a Disciplinary Committee.
ICAG stated that the Investigations Committee shall, when necessary or desirable, investigate the conduct and good standing of members and students, and any matter referred to it by the Council.
“This Committee shall have the power to make enquiries from members and students about professional matters, and to require the production of books, documents and working or other papers.”
The accounting body stated that the Disciplinary Committee will conduct hearings of charges preferred against members and students by the Investigations Committee.
According to ICAG, any person may address the Council in writing a charge or charges of professional misconduct on the part of any member.
“Any member may address to the Council in writing a charge or charges of unfitness, lack of moral character or professional or other misconduct on the part of any member or of any registered student…If without any such charge, any seeming unfitness, lack of moral character or professional or other misconduct on the part of a member or of a registered student shall come to the notice of the Secretary, he may make inquiries with regard thereto and thereafter may report in writing to the Council the facts ascertained by him.”
According to ICAG, the Council may in its discretion deal with the report as if it constituted a charge or charges under the by-laws and thereupon such report shall be deemed to be a charge or charges under the bylaws for all purposes.
The accounting body added that its Rules of Professional Conduct which are applicable to members are those set out in the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants issued by the International Federation of Accountants (‘IFAC’), through the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants.
The Code of Ethics defines a professional accountant as “an individual who is a member of an IFAC member body”. The Institute is a member body of IFAC.
Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, filed an official complaint against Sattaur with the country’s highest accountancy body, last month.
The official complaint was prompted by the illegal release of tax information. It said that Commissioner-General Khurshid Sattaur is guilty of misconduct in office by his acts.
This newspaper recently 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 forefront of the Government retaliation.
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.
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