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Opinions of Sunday, 29 September 2019

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

The ICAG: How to not think

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Augustine Addo, Director of Member Services of Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana, granted a very shocking interview to Citi 97.3FM on Eye Witness News on the evening of 6 September.

Questioned about the four audit firms the ICAG has fined for poor audits in the banking scandal matter, Addo said that the audit firms that were fined and the individuals who work for them are very competent, and therefore people should “have faith in them”.

He stated: “They’ve handled about 100 files in a year and if these small infractions are detected we should withdraw their license – no.”

He justified the dodgy financial fines imposed by ICAG on its corporate members without the individuals being touched thus: “They’ve worked for about 25 years and no error has been detected.”

Now frankly, you would expect such reasoning from a gnat and not from an official statement from a national professional regulatory body under the Ministry of Education. What the hell is going on in this country?

Here is how my mentor contextualized Augustine Addo’s statement:
“So a 35 year old man is involved in his 1st armed robbery during which a 23 year old male security guard…(newly married with a 3 month old baby) is killed. Ehrmmmm….the armed robber has lived for 35 YEARS WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS (365 DAYS × 35). So why should he go to jail for JUST ONE OFFENCE FOR ONE HOUR OF HIS LIFE??”

What does the law say?

In other places and other times such blatant disregard for the law and human sensibilities has led to people reaching for pitchforks and knives.

Is that what we want from this terrible scandal that has led to the loss of people’s life savings? We hope not.

What is so dangerous about Augustine Addo’s words are that the audit reports passed the test.

Should there be any complaints about the audit reports of any year taken at random, who knows what shall be found.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Ghana’s Banking Supervision Department has formally admitted that they failed to do their job over many years.

The ICAG obviously has no internal regulation.

Clearly a “harmonious mediocrity” was the ethos and as such continues to prevail.

In the interim, the Director of Member Services is hailed as an “Accounting Jesus” (an accolade given by his students) who is teaching students and assisting members hopefully with honorable conduct and virtuous thoughts.

The ICAG is an agency under the Ministry of Education; they sponsor bills through Parliament; they seek always to influence bills sent to Parliament; they have always insisted that no matter where one got his formal accountancy training, you MUST be regulated by them.

Now if this is how the internal regulation mechanism of ICAG works, then we have our work cut out for us.

Now for the “T word”…….

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