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Abolition of confidentiality clause in accounting’ll end corruption— ICAN president

New president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Managing Partner of Ahmed Zakari & Co, Mallam Isma’ila Zakari has argued that with the abolition of the confidentiality clause in the new international accounting standard already adopted by the council, issues of poor disclosure and the attendant corruptive tendencies in preparing results do not exit again.

Business Hilights recalls that the new rule took effect from July 15, 2017.

Giving more insights on the new rule which is called Noncompliance with Laws and Regulations (NOCLAR), he noted that they are now, the laws of Nigeria and the regulations set by the regulators.

He said “There are many regulators in Nigeria. One of the leading regulators of the banking industry, for instance, is the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which makes regulations, and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)”.

“Apart from the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), they also make regulations. The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) also has regulations and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM); also has regulations. Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), has regulations, so if in the case of a non-compliance with any laws or regulations in Nigeria, accountants can no longer hide under the old rule of “all our fundamental principle of confidentiality.”

On how the new regulation will drive the fight against corruption, ICAN president said “It is going to help curb corruption because accountants can no longer hide under confidentiality and if they do not report and the situation becomes known and it is proved that the accountant had prior information of this matter, he is also likely to be charged complicity with the company that committed that offence”.

Zakari hinted that “Before July 15, one of the strongest and fundamental principles we have always been known for is our confidentiality”.

“We keep our mouth shut about anything we see or hear in respect of our employers or clients and that is why they respect us and have trust in allowing us to work and dig through their records. So, if I go to a company in Nigeria as an auditor, I would know their business strategy but because

“I am a chartered accountant and member of ICAN, I cannot, under the confidentiality rule, take the business strategy of that company and go and give to a competitor company; so we keep that confidentiality.

According to him, “The global accounting profession came up after a six-year stakeholder engagement with NOCLAR and it says that our principle of confidentiality has been probably responsible for allowing people to go scot free with cases of non-compliance with rules and regulations and that, in fact, if we apply this NOCLAR principle, we may be able to even stop potential cases of non-compliance with rules and regulations, which would make life in the world better and make the economies of the world thrive better and probably perform better”.

“For instance, if I am aware, as a chartered accountant, that somebody is just about to commit money laundering offence, in the course of my work, I am now required under NOCLAR to mention to him not to do it, and if he still insists that he wants to do it, I would go to the appropriate regulator like Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and report.

“This is now the ethical disposition of the profession, the new paradigm shift in the ethical disposition that we now, through our ethics, are going to be global whistle blowers in the case of non-compliance with rules and regulations or potential case of non-compliance or suspected case of non-compliance with rules and regulations.