‘Don’t backchat to the policeman,’ ASIC tells auditors

SMSF auditors who fail to cooperate with ASIC and the ATO when an issue is raised are placing themselves firmly on the regulatory radar, according to one senior ASIC representative.

There is ample opportunity for auditors to provide responses and explanations to ASIC and the ATO when an issue is brought to the regulator’s attention, Craig Angove, senior analyst reporting and audit at ASIC told delegates at the SMSF Association’s national conference in Melbourne yesterday.

“We think that there’s a very robust process in place and and we’re continuing to improve and refine it,” Mr Angrove said.

Auditors should engage with the ATO as soon as an issue is raised to maximise the chances of dealing with the matter before it is referred to ASIC, said Howard Dickinson, director, SMSF approved auditors and AC liaison, superannuation, ATO.

“Our intent is to refer nothing to ASIC that we can’t do ourselves. So if we’re sending it to ASIC, we have tried, and we’ve tried hard,” Mr Dickinson said.

“Either they’re not talking, they’re not engaging with us, they’re not prepared to help us or they’re disagreeing with things that we think are black and white.

“We’re not sending referrals over to ASIC because we don’t [want to deal with it], it’s because we’ve found facts that make us believe it’s inappropriate for you to continue services as an auditor without ASIC considering treatment.”

Mr Angrove agreed, and said by the time an auditor is referred to ASIC, it is assumed their case has been through a “robust” process.

He also stressed that co-operation with the regulators is an expectation on all SMSF auditors.

“You’ve got more chance of being able to stop it with the ATO,” he said.

“We more or less have an obligation to consider taking it forward. We might not necessarily take action, but you could’ve avoided it coming to us, and you’re also on our radar then. We’ll have this information on our radar. So co-operation with the ATO is best. Don’t backchat to the policeman.”

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