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Outraged CA ANZ member plans AGM assault on board

By philip-king-momentummedia-com-au
July 25 2022
3 minute read
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A showdown looms at the October meeting over the positions of chair and CEO.

Editor's note (27 July 2022): This story has been superseded by events that will be reported by SMSF Adviser on July 28
Following representations by CA ANZ, this version includes minor amendments to the original.

Outspoken CA ANZ member Tony Alizzi is mustering support to topple the chair and CEO of the professional body at the upcoming AGM over its handling of the KPMG exam cheating scandal.

Mr Alizzi said the affair, which implicated hundreds at the Big 4 firm, was “the biggest scandal in the profession in living memory” and board chair John Palermo should go along with CEO Ainslie van Onselen.


“The fish rots from the head – the lack of leadership on this is palpable,” he said.

“Frankly, Ainslie should resign and I think the chairman should resign as well.

“I think it is now necessary to do the resolution that's required for the AGM to get those two fired.”

“You would think that nothing had been done wrong. You are kidding me?”

An original investigation was conducted in the US by its Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which found the exam cheating was widespread and fined KPMG $US450,000.

It was then taken up CA ANZ’s independent Professional Conduct Committee and all 422 implicated in the scandal are believed to have been sent letters by the body raising sections of its professional code which they did not comply with.

Last week just eight unnamed members were sanctioned and in response to criticism CA ANZ issued a statement in defence, reported by Accountants Daily on 19 July.

“This matter was heard by the PCC and so while [CA ANZ] can provide comment on the outcome of the process, we are not privy to and cannot disclose any other details,” said Simon Grant, CA ANZ’s group executive advocacy, professional standing.

CA ANZ also announced a review of its by-laws, with its leader and terms of reference expected to be revealed next month.

Accountants Daily requested additional comment from CA ANZ in response to readers’ criticisms, but the body referred back to its previous remarks.

Mr Alizzi, a former CFO who is currently operations director Asia Pacific Japan at Hewlett-Packard in Singapore, said the action by CA ANZ was all too little, too late.

“They should have been vigorously pursing this matter … but they have abjectly failed to do that,” he said.

“You shouldn't be looking for reasons not to do it and I think that's what they've done This was first raised in 2020. How much runway do you need to be able to mobilise? They had no intention of going after them.”

He also echoed many comments by Accountants Daily readers in raising a perception of double-standards.

“There's a feeling that if you're a small practitioner, you basically get short shrift. And if you're one of the Big 4, well, we’ll turn a blind eye, we’ll drag our feet.”

He planned to reach out to members ahead of the next AGM on October 28 and said a relatively small number of votes would be required to pass spill motions given the low level of involvement typical of the meetings.

He cited a previous scandal five years ago at CPA Australia, when the board was replaced en masse after CEO Alex Malley was fired over allegations of financial misconduct, and only a few thousand votes were required.

“The CA ANZ situation is more clear cut. There has been wrongdoing by a large cross section of KPMG members,” he said.

“This is emblematic of some really poor governance.”
He said small practitioners were “ropable” about the scandal and he was confident he could get the 100 signatures required for a resolution and sufficient votes – 2,000 to 3,000 – for a spill motion on the chair.

“It would take a board resolution to remove a board member, but a vote of no confidence or a motion of no confidence, I think I could get that done.”

“I don't think I'll have much difficulty in marshalling up attention around issues which stink to high heaven like this one does.

“I think I can generate enough outrage on this.”

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Philip King

Philip King

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.
Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.
You can email Philip on: [email protected].au