CPAs: International crime fighters

When you think of a global network of crime fighters, you probably don’t immediately think of accountants. But you should.

Recently, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) released a study titled “The Accountancy Profession — Playing a Positive Role in Tackling Corruption.” It was the third part in IFAC's look at the importance our profession plays in society.

The key finding in this report is that where a country's governance architecture is stronger, the role played by professional accountants in tackling corruption is amplified. Professional accountants — with their focus on ethics, education and oversight — are instrumental in fighting crime worldwide.

It's a truth that we here at CPA Canada have known for a long time, but it's great to have studies such as this confirm it.

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada has more than 210,000 members — and we are all part of a growing global community of some three million professional accountants. Each of us, no matter where in the world we are, play a part in fighting corruption and creating a global culture of good governance.

Others in the business community and government play a critical role in this fight, but we at CPA Canada know that we must continue to play a leadership role.
Corruption eats away at economies and to stop it we need cross-sector collaboration — something that CPAs have excelled at for decades. Among the examples of recent collaboration is CPA Canada's work on various government committees and panels. These include:

  • The Advisory Panel on Canada's System of International Taxation
  • The minister's Underground Economy Advisory Committee
  • The CRA-CPA Canada Framework Agreement
  • Finance Canada's Public/Private Sector Advisory Committee on Anti-Money Laundering/Anti-Terrorist Financing

But more than serving on panels and committees, being a CPA means we are committed — in everything we do — to a higher level of integrity. Integrity plays a critical role in combatting corruption and assists in cultivating long-term sustainable growth. It represents the Canadian ideal of good business: the focus on both business and social development to create a stronger economy.

At CPA Canada, we are also committed to equipping our members with the latest skills and knowledge required to stay ahead of fraudsters. As the IFAC study notes, our profession's skills make accountants critically important in the fight against corruption. There is a strong link between the percentage of professional accountants in a country's workforce and more favourable scores (indicating a “cleaner” economy) on Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

And as my colleague Fayez Choudhury, CEO of the IFAC, says in his report, “In the fight against corruption, silence must never be the safer option for any individual. The accountancy profession, acting in the public interest, has supported this fight for decades — and we will continue to do so.”

We here at CPA Canada will stand with our global colleagues in accounting — from Vancouver to Vienna to Volgograd — to continue to fight this important fight.

KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

What are your thoughts on the IFAC report? Post a comment below.

About the Author

Joy Thomas, MBA, FCPA, FCMA, C. Dir.

Joy is the president and CEO of CPA Canada, and a member of the National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy. Joy also serves as member of the board of directors of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and is a board member of the Global Accounting Alliance, which she also chairs.