The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has intensified its compliance activity in regard to SMSF auditors, taking punitive action recently against three registered practitioners operating in the sector.
In the first instance, the corporate watchdog disqualified Manoj Abichandani of New South Wales from being an approved SMSF auditor, after it was determined he provided untruthful statements that were deliberately misleading and he was not a fit or proper person to be an SMSF auditor.
ASIC imposed additional conditions on Abichandani’s registration for him to undertake further professional development and submit three of his subsequent audits for an independent review, with the expectation that by meeting those conditions he might address the concerns.
Abichandani requested a review of the conditions and as part of that process made statements to ASIC that were found to be untruthful and deliberately misleading.
The decision to disqualify him was also subject to further review, which found among other things that his statements were made for the purpose of causing ASIC to erroneously accept he had no understanding of the audit work that had been undertaken and the findings made as a result of that audit work.
Abe Samuel of NSW was also disqualified from being an approved SMSF auditor after ASIC determined he breached independence requirements and was not a fit and proper person to be an approved SMSF auditor.
The regulator found Samuel had breached independence requirements of “APES 110: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants”, where he was a member of a fund he audited and also the director of its corporate trustee, as well as the power of attorney holder for, and a relative of, a member of a fund he audited.
Finally, James Dermody of NSW was also taken off the approved SMSF auditor register after it was found he signed independent auditor reports and auditor independence declarations for two companies for the years ended 30 June 2013 and 2014 when he was not a registered company auditor under the Corporations Act.