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Watchdog clamps down on 'unqualified auditors'

CORPORATE enforcement czar Paul Appleby is ramping up his pursuit of people who sign off on accounts, despite not being qualified as auditors.

The latest monthly newsletter from his Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement shows that there were five prosecutions for auditing breaches last year -- more than double the figure in 2010.

The figures include those who have signed off company accounts without being entitled to do so, as well as companies that have used the names of actual audit firms without the knowledge of those firms.

There has been one prosecution completed so far this year, but "several further prosecutions have been, or are very likely to be, initiated during 2012", according to the ODCE.

Most of the cases result in fines for the defendant but prison sentences have also begun to be handed down.

In one case, the defendant, Kenneth Shanny, was jailed for three years for offences under the Section 242 of the Companies Act 1990, which covers the furnishing of false evidence to the Registrar of Companies.

The final year of the sentence was suspended, while a good-behaviour bond was imposed for two years after his release.

Earlier this year, George Motyer, of Bantry, Cork, was accused of acting as auditor for four companies while he was not qualified to do so. He was convicted of eight offences, fined and jailed for five months which was suspended.

Mr Appleby's office has been under pressure in recent months over a perceived lack of action in corporate malpractice and the drawn-out probe into Anglo Irish Bank's collapse.

Irish Independent