Monday 19 February 2018

Auditor at firm used by Haughey faces ban

Tim Healy

THE auditor of a company used by the late accountant Des Traynor for a "sophisticated and extensive scheme" of tax evasion by Charles Haughey and others must be disqualified or restricted, the Supreme Court has ruled.

But the court said it would consider submissions at a later date as to whether a shorter period of disqualification should apply.

Yesterday the court unanimously allowed an appeal by the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) against the High Court's refusal to disqualify Patrick MacCann despite finding serious failures in his conduct as auditor and director of Kentford Securities Ltd.

In its ruling, the court said that while the cumulative effects of Mr MacCann's actions as auditor of Kentford Securities Ltd was "very grave", it noted he has had a "chastening" and costly experience over several years as a result and the impact of disqualification may be "particularly severe" on him in his business as an auditor.

Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell described as "unduly indulgent" the High Court's refusal to disqualify on the basis of its view Mr MacCann was unlikely to repeat such conduct.

The High Court approach was based on errors of principle in the trial judge's analysis of the purpose of disqualification orders, he ruled.

The ODCE had sought the disqualification order against Mr MacCann (52), a certified public accountant, arising from his conduct as auditor of Kentford. The matters complained of occurred between 1988 and 1994.

In his 2006 High Court judgment, Mr Justice Michael Peart upheld the Director's complaints about Mr MacCann's conduct but declined to disqualify him.

Yesterday, Mr Justice O'Donnell said the 1990 Act provided for a two-stage inquiry regarding making disqualification orders -- an objective forensic inquiry as to whether breaches of Section 160 were established to the degree required followed by consideration of the court's discretion.

If that procedure was followed, it was apparent the "most serious" matter against Mr MacCann justifying disqualification occurred over a number of years when Mr MacCann's business was well-established.

Irish Independent

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