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Publicly listed auditor register problematic

Making the assigned registration number of SMSF auditors available to the public on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) Connect website has created an opportunity for the misuse of this information.

“There’s the risk that people can get onto the ASIC register, see who’s an auditor, select them and just use their number to lodge a tax return,” Super Sphere director Belinda Aisbett said.

Aisbett said she had already encountered an instance of auditor number misuse herself, in addition to a former colleague who was selected for audit by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). “We figured out there was a firm that had asked him to do some audits previously and they’ve been putting his details on their clients’ tax returns for five years straight – he’s never heard of any of them. So it does happen and I have no doubt it’s happening quite a bit,” she said.

She said she had approached ASIC and ATO representatives to inform them of the issues and was told they would look into it. “I don’t know if ASIC will say we’re going to get a list of clients [to check] and we’ll have to deal with it as the problem arises, or they may be doing this deliberately so they can see who is treating the system appropriately,” she said.

“There might be some explanation for why they wanted to do it, but I can see it as an administrative problem versus anything else.”

While she said she had no issues with ASIC listing approved auditors and understood the register would allow SMSF trustees to verify auditor authenticity, she felt  registration numbers should be provided directly from auditors, which would create a roadblock to misuse.

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