Giving up your CPA title to escape the consequences of one’s actions: A viable solution?

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The syndic’s column

Make no mistake: CPAs are always accountable for the actions they take while a member, even if they no longer belong to their professional order.

The purpose of an order is to protect the public. And so, there are various mechanisms in place to prevent professionals from getting away with wrongdoings they may have committed in the practice of their profession. Here’s what you need to know:

  • All CPAs and former CPAs have an obligation to cooperate with the syndic in the course of an inquiry. The syndic may ask to meet with them and request documents or information, and may even compel them to do so if necessary.

  • Section 116 of the Professional Code is crystal clear: If a complaint is made for an offence committed while the professional was a member of the order, the Disciplinary council will review the complaint, regardless of this person’s current status.

  • No need to be embroiled in a major financial scandal or corruption case: Any professional misconduct or violation of the code of ethics is likely to catch the syndic’s attention and result in a complaint to the Disciplinary council.

  • What are the consequences? If the disciplinary council imposes a penalty on a CPA, a legal notice is always published in the CPA Newsletter, which is sent to 39,000 members and 5,000 candidates, as well as in a newspaper covering the territory where the CPA practices his or her profession.

  • Time doesn’t fix things: Unlike in general law, there is no statute of limitations when it comes to disciplinary matters. The syndic can always investigate, regardless of how many years have gone by, and lodge a complaint against a CPA who committed a breach while a member of the Order.

Conclusion: Order membership is a privilege, not a right. The responsibilities that come with it last for good, even when a CPA gives up the privilege of membership.