Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  13 / 23 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 13 / 23 Next Page
Page Background


The Disciplinary Committe did not sit during this period. Below is a

report on a matter that was recently finalised on judicial review.

In April 2015 the IRBA commenced with the disciplinary hearing of

Ms Francine-Ann du Plessis, who was charged with eight charges

of improper conduct. Charges one to five related to assurance work

provided on the financial statements of a company that owned

a guest house in Plettenberg Bay and received a Department of

Trade and Industry (DTI) tourism grant. The remaining three charges

relate to a group of private individuals and family trusts to which the

practitioner provided tax services and facilitated their provisional tax

payments to SARS.

During one of the hearing adjournments Ms du Plessis resigned as

a registered auditor with the IRBA; however, the IRBA still retained

jurisdiction over conduct while the practitioner was registered with

the IRBA. At the end of the disciplinary proceedings in March 2016,

the practitioner was found guilty on the second and fifth charges

and was sanctioned. The practitioner was acquitted on all of the

remaining charges.

In respect of the

second charge

, Ms du Plessis was found guilty

of improper conduct within the meaning of Rule 2.1.3 of the old

Disciplinary Rules in that she committed an offence involving

dishonesty and, in particular, the offence of fraud. She was found

guilty of improper conduct within the meaning of Rule 2.1.4 of the

old Disciplinary Rules in that she was dishonest in the performance

of work and duties devolving upon her in relation to work of a type

commonly performed by a practitioner.

The essence of the

second charge

was that Ms du Plessis had

allowed a set of financial statements of the company-owned

guest house to be amended in respect of turnover and directors’

emoluments in order for the company to fraudulently be entitled to a

DTI grant. The practitioner had signed an unqualified audit opinion in

September 2006 in respect of the original set of financial statements.

In December 2006, a company assisting the client with securing

the DTI grant requested the practitioner to amend the financial

statements in respect of turnover and directors’ emoluments. The

changes were manifestly aimed at meeting targets in order to qualify

for a grant from the DTI and were not reflective of the true operations

and cash flow of the guest house.

The Disciplinary Committee found that Ms du Plessis had

misrepresented in the documentation forming part of the DTI claim,

inter alia

, that the information in the claim, based on the amended

financial statements,

“is true and fair”; “the financial statements [are]

final and correct”

; and no discrepancies were found in turnover. The

committee found that the prejudice to the DTI was patent and it did

not matter that the practitioner had not obtained any direct personal

financial gain from the fraudulent claim. The committee found that

both fraud and dishonesty had been established.

In relation to the

fifth charge

the committee found Ms du Plessis

guilty of improper conduct within the meaning of Rule 2.1.1 of the

old Disciplinary Rules in that she failed to comply with S45(1) of the

Auditing Profession Act 26 of 2005 (APA). She was also found guilty

of improper conduct within the meaning of Rule 2.1.21 of the old

Disciplinary Rules in that she conducted herself in a manner which

was improper, discreditable, unprofessional, dishonourable and

unworthy on the part of a practitioner and which tended to bring the

profession of accounting into disrepute. The Disciplinary Committee

found that through the practitioner’s involvement in the amended

financial statements of the guest house for the submission of the

DTI claim, she had reason to believe that a reportable irregularity

had taken place in respect of the company. Accordingly, in those

circumstances, she was obliged by S45(1) of the APA to report the

reportable irregularity but had failed to do so.

The Disciplinary Committee fined the practitioner the maximum

fine, at the time, of R100 000 in respect of the

second charge

and R50 000 in respect of the

fifth charge

. In terms of sanction,

the practitioner’s voluntary resignation from the IRBA had left the

committee with a limited spectrum within which to work since the

practitioner had placed herself outside the reach of suspension or

cancellation as a form of sanction.

The committee ruled that the practitioner’s name, the charges

against her, a summary of the material facts, the findings in respect

of the charges and the finding in respect of the sanctions imposed

on her, be published in the IRBA News. In addition, the practitioner

was ordered to pay a contribution of R320 000 towards the IRBA’s


In May 2016, Ms du Plessis took the decision and sanction of the

Disciplinary Committee in relation to

charges two and five


judicial review to the Western Cape High Court. The decision of the

Disciplinary Committee to convict the practitioner of having acted in

breach of the duty imposed in terms of S45(1) of the APA, in relation


charge five

, was set aside on review. The application for the

review and the setting aside of the Disciplinary Committee’s decision

in respect of the

second charge

was dismissed. Subsequently, the

practitioner took the decision of the High Court on appeal to the

Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and ultimately to the Constitutional

Court. Both superior courts dismissed her application for leave to

appeal, with the Constitutional Court handing down its order on 2

May 2018.

In conclusion, Ms du Plessis was sentenced to a fine of R100 000

in relation to

charge two

, a contribution to costs incurred in the

disciplinary proceedings in the sum of R320 000, and payment of

the legal costs incurred in the High Court, SCA and Constitutional

Court proceedings.


Reportable irregularities (RIs) for the quarter January to March 2018

(Note that RIs are reported on quarterly in arrears)

181 second reports were received, of which:

-RIs were continuing


-RIs were not continuing


-RIs did not exist



Issue 42 | April - June 2018