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Auditor disqualified for independence breach

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has disqualified Kathleen Whittle of New South Wales from being an approved SMSF auditor after she was found to be in breach of fundamental independence requirements.

The corporate regulator found Whittle had breached the auditor independence requirements of APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants in auditing the funds of her immediate and close family members.

“SMSF auditors play a fundamental role in promoting confidence in the SMSF sector so it is crucial that they adhere to ethical and professional standards,” ASIC commissioner John Price said.

ASIC will continue to take action where the conduct of SMSF auditors is inadequate.”

This comes after ASIC last week banned NSW-based practitioner Chiu Man from being an approved SMSF auditor for breaching the fundamental audit requirements and found him to be not a fit and proper person.

Specifically, ASIC found Chiu Man had not complied with the audit evidence requirements as determined by the Australian auditing standards and had not responded to inquiries from both ASIC and the ATO in an appropriate manner.

“SMSF auditors play a fundamental role in promoting confidence in the SMSF sector so it is crucial that they adhere to ethical and professional standards,” Price said.

“ASIC will continue to take action where the conduct of SMSF auditors is inadequate.”

ASIC’s investigation into Chiu Man’s activities arose from information passed onto it by the ATO under section 128P of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) (SIS) Act 1993.

Since 1 July 2013, the SIS Act has required all SMSF auditors to be registered with ASIC in order to establish and maintain base competency and expertise standards.

ASIC reminded SMSF trustees and members they can access the regulator’s auditor register to determine if a practitioner is actually registered and has not been disqualified.

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