AADB waters down 'enquiries' plan

The audit watchdog has watered down a key part of its new disciplinary scheme in order to get the backing of accountancy institutes. The Accountancy & Actuarial Discipline Board has agreed a 'protocol' with the six main bodies over its controversial plan to be given power of preliminary enquiry into an accountancy firm before deciding whether to investigate. At present this power is held by the institutes themselves and they have been bitterly opposed to giving it up. The AADB has agreed to only carry out preliminary enquiries with the consent of the relevant body. But in its statement, the board said: 'The board has made it clear to the participants that the protocol must not constrain in any way the board's ability to exercise its power to initiate investigations of its own accord.' Announcing the changes last month to the Accountancy Scheme, AADB chairman Timothy Walker said they 'demonstrate the board's commitment to the principles of independence, fairness and transparency in its disciplinary arrangements'. But the battle is far from over. Although the institute officials have agreed the plans, they must be voted on by each body's council members, who will be meeting throughout this month. The ICAEW said it would not comment before its meeting had happened. AADB board secretary Anna Colban said that if the members threw out the proposals, 'we'll have to consider how we deal with that.' The scheme is due for implementation by January 2010.
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