Importance of being ethical

Importance of being ethical - Importance of being ethical...

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The importance of being ethical By Paul McLaughlin Illustration: Shino Arihara Be it in public practice or industry, CAs are subject to demanding rules of conduct that are there to protect the public The council chamber where the Discipline Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario meets to determine the fate of members charged with violating the profession’s rules has a fitting air of solemnity to it. An ornate, high-domed ceiling dominates the spacious dark-wooded room, which is noted for its perfect acoustics. On April 25, 2007, four senior CAs and a public representative sit at a ring of desks in the room’s north end, separated by a considerable distance from the institute’s counsel, Paul Farley, and its lead investigator, Bruce Armstrong, who are in one corner and the defendant, Wanda Liczyk, and her counsel in the other. It is safe to say that few, if any, accountants can imagine a day when their competence or ethics will be scrutinized by their profession to determine if they have violated their institute’s rules of professional conduct. But it happens to hundreds of CAs each year. The consequences of being found guilty of an offence range from a warning to shape up to far more serious results, the most extreme being expulsion from the profession. This, then, is a cautionary tale, with the very public Liczyk case serving as an example, of what can happen when accountants behave badly. The ICAO’s case against Liczyk was investigated by Armstrong, a tall, ruddy-faced CA whose floppy white hair is testimony to his three-plus decades as a forensic accountant. Currently a director with LECG Canada, where his practice includes the investigation of professional misconduct charges, Armstrong was a full-time senior investigator for the ICAO for almost seven years, commencing in January 2000. There is an air of decency and fairness to Armstrong that is reflected in how he describes his approach to an assignment. “I’m not an advocate for or against any party involved in a case,” he says. “My job is to try to determine, to the best of my ability, what exactly happened. And to do so in a highly professional manner. My job is not to present an opinion — just the facts and quite often a chronology of those facts.” Few discipline committee hearings attract outside attention, but this one is an exception. The media and public section at the back end of the chamber is standing room only, as about a dozen reporters and concerned citizens wait to find out what will happen to Liczyk, who gained notoriety as a central figure in the very public controversy surrounding a computer contract between the City of Toronto, where she had served as CFO and treasurer, and MFP Financial Services. When the cost of the contract ended up being more than double its original $43 million estimate, a lengthy public inquiry was held, led by Justice Denise Bellamy. During the inquiry, Justice Bellamy criticized Liczyk for failing to disclose a serious conflict of interest she
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This note was uploaded on 11/23/2009 for the course AFM 480 taught by Professor Gb during the Spring '09 term at Waterloo.

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Importance of being ethical - Importance of being ethical...

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