Bean counters get to keep lid on CIIPA

| 13/07/2018 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service

Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Institute of Public Accountants does not have to reveal anything to the public as the Office of the Ombudsman has confirmed that the Freedom of Information Law does not apply to the industry body. Publishing the most recent decision from her office this week, Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston said it was “an important decision” that has clarified the application of the law and its boundaries in the case of professional regulatory organisations.

The decision follows an FOI request made by an accountant to the local organisation for the profession asking for its policies and procedures, and his own personal information. But the CIIPA responded stating that it is not a public authority and is therefore not subject to the FOI law.

The applicant made the request because he had initially been granted a public accounting licence for 2018, which was subsequently withdrawn. He was not satisfied with the information provided to him by the CIIPA about the decisions regarding his case, so he filed a request for information under the FOI law.

When he was turned down, he appealed to the ombudsman, saying that as CIIPA is a statutory body it fell within the definition of public authority. But the ombudsman’s office found that while the CIIPA was under the current Accountants Law, and is a statutory body in the general sense but is not part of the public sector.

The FOI law is focused on public authorities and the public sector, with numerous provisions explicitly relating to government and public affairs. Public authorities are partly or entirely funded by the Cabinet, which has the power to appoint or dismiss the majority of the board or other governing body, the Ombudsman’s office explained in a release. The CIIPA’s governing body is not appointed by Cabinet and the organisation is not funded by the government; therefore FOI applicants do not have a legal right to access their records.

The CIIPA responded to the ombudsman’s inquiry but made it clear that they had not done so in response to any order because “that could be taken as an admission that the FOIL applies to CIIPA, which is denied”.

CIIPA publishes all of its policies and procedures on its website.

See the full decision on the Ombudsman’s website

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Category: Business, Financial Services, Government oversight, Politics, Private Sector Oversight

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    FOI isn’t FOI if all departments don’t need to comply. It’s that simple.

    • Jotnar says:

      Did you read the article? CIIPA is not a government department nor is it funded by government.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dear CNS. I find the term ‘bean counter’ a bit insulting. I worked hard to get my qualifications and now specialize in a unique aspect of business that wouldn’t have been possible without my qualifications. It also doesn’t encourage Caymanians to take up the profession if this is the way we are portrayed in the media. They’ll probably end up thinking it’s better to work in a bank earning $30k a year as opposed to following an accountancy route that netted me $750k last year.

    • Anonymous says:

      Heavens above, it’s not the colloquial language that makes accountants look bad, it’s humorless snowlflakes like you.

      No beans were harmed in the making of this comment.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        Humour? Why did the auditor cross the road?

        He checked his file to see that is what he did the year before.

        From an ex auditor not making $750,000 per annum

  3. Anonymous says:

    Can somebody who actually knows what their talking about, no disrespect meant to the posters, regarding the Accountants Law, the Auditor Oversight Authority, CIIPA membership of IFAC etc etc please clarify everything for those that want to know, I’ve personally not got the time to write a full explanatory response. Many thanks.

  4. Jotnar says:

    So he asked for CIIPAs policies and procedures, which are on its website, and his own personal information, which he presumably provided them? Sounds like this is more to do with him being angry about having his licence refused.

  5. New things coming says:

    So. In a sense this CIIPA is a private entity, not PUBLIC. Correct? It us not required to be transparent like a PUBLIC entity is?

    Long story short it is a private bussiness that makes money by saying “all accountants, who are paying their dues to us, are legitimate and legal”.

    So my question is in three parts.

    A) Since it is a “private company” where is the GOV’t oversight of licensed accountants on this Island. Remember CIFA. No oversight and look at the mess and corruption that took place with that.

    B) Since its a “private company” does anyone have to abide by their rules? Or even join their “company”? Its not Gov’t. So realistically they have no kegal jurisdiction to mandate licenses.

    C) Can another group start another “private company” that does the same exact thing as CIIPA?

    If all the answers to these questions is a resounding “NO” then the Ombudsmab errored and this entity, CIIPA, IS a PUBLIC BODY.

    Sounds to me like the OLD BOY network is trying to maintain their status quo. Just like CIFA, FIFA.tried.

    Come on folks, the younger generation is not gonna take this crap lying down. Changes are coming, people WILL go to jail.

    Imagine if the medical practioners board was not a Public Board. What a mess………..

    • Anonymous says:

      a) There is no government oversight of Accountants on the Island. It is a self-governing body. That is the same in Canada, US, South Africa, UK, Australia. They are all self governing bodies of accountants who set standards about what examinations you must pass and experience you must have/maintain in order to be a member. Membership is about $100 per year in Cayman. It is not multi-million dollars we are talking about here.

      b) You don’t have to abide by the rules. Anyone can call themselves an accountant. But to be a licensed accountant, you have to had passed exams and have certain experience which means, that yes, if you want to be a member, you have to abide by their rules. And most businesses want to know that Accountants they are hiring meet a minimum set of standards so they want to hire licensed accountants. That is where the demand comes from.

      c) Yes, someone else could start another group. But again it comes back to the demand. A business wants to hire a licensed accountant that they know have met specific criteria to be considered a licensed accountant. So the demand is their for CIIPA. It would be take a lot of time for another group to build up their reputation such that there would be demand for their members vs CIIPA. Globally, a lot of countries had two or three accounting licensing bodies but there has been a big move to merge bodies over the past 5-10 years. Canada had three for example and now has one.

  6. Cess Pita says:

    6.40pm Ironic with all this “scrutiny” that so much Government dirt is swept under the carpet, never to see the light of day.Even when a senior civil servant is suspended for several years on full pay and eventualyy dismissed with a large bonus we are kept in the dark as to the reason.

  7. Cayman King says:

    Accountants …….that is a plural noun therefore the verb should also be plural….the verb do.
    So should that first sentence not begin as Accountants do.
    Could you please have your proof readers check the grammar.
    That is glaring and not to be picky but there are lots and lots of errors in your write ups.

    CNS: The noun in the first sentence that agrees with the verb “does” is not “accountants” but “Cayman Islands Institute of Public Accountants”, which is an organisation, i.e. singular. The verb is correct. Read the sentence like this: “The accountants’ organisation does not have to reveal anything to the public as the Office of the Ombudsman has confirmed that the Freedom of Information Law does not apply to the industry body.”

    Perhaps our other “errors” are also, in fact, your own misunderstanding of the grammar rules.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pleasedon’t encourage the grammar police.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ironically a mistake often made in relation to the “Cayman Islands” when referred to as a country. As in “The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory”. You wouldn’t say “the Cayman Islands ARE a British Overseas Territory” now would you?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Typical private sector response. Sorry buddy join the public service if you want transparency.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ombudsman may be technically correct (winning the battle) but pragmatically incorrect (thereby losing the war).

    How can the private sector be allowed to levy and collect taxes through the coercive powers of the state, yet not be legally required to remit those taxes to Government and is not subject to its transparency laws.

    As a self-employed accountant, I am mandated to pay 3 sets of fees to CIIPA annually, if I don’t pay those fees, neither I nor my company can legally issue an accounting opinion.

    There is no exchange for this fee because it is coerced by law, and failure to pay means legal penalties if I continue to practice.

    Those funds collected are the main source of funding for CIIPA.

    Chris Saunders please look into this, its legalized taxation by a private body who now claims exemption from public rules.

    • Anonymous says:

      6:06 Get the message …no one in government can help with this. There is no public money being spent.

      The private sector could never operate under the strict scrunity that the public sector does.

      Imagine the private being subject to;

      Ombudsman FOI etc
      Auditor General
      Procurement laws

      Imagine CNS being required to publish names of posters!! Yikes!

      CNS: If we were subject to FOI, the identity of our commenters may well be subject to privacy exemptions.
      The private equivalence to the ombudsman would be a consumer protection agency, which we and many others would welcome. However, there appears to be no political will do introduce something that would upset their main donors.
      As to audits, in countries where there is taxation, private companies and individuals are subject to audits to make sure they are paying their fair share, and seem to manage just fine (for the most part).
      Managers and CEOs of large companies do not have to answer to PAC but they do have to answer to shareholders and directors, which many would argue is much tougher and certainly more likely to end in being fired if you make major errors.
      Ditto procurement laws.
      Given that Theresa May is a little distracted at the moment, it seems likely that Cayman and other BOTs will have to have public beneficial ownership registers in place by 2020, so you may get your wish regarding transparency.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes CNS, I agree with your opinion on a consumer protection agency and the inevitability of the public register. Interesting that you have chosen this platform to state your political opinions. I guess the fact that you have disclosed that it is coming from CNS makes it okay?

        CNS: I honestly don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where does the money go?

      • Anonymous says:

        To pay the president of the association & her staff, plus related rent for their offices & utilities, expenses etc

  10. Anonymous says:

    All this man has to do is wait until Jan 2019 when the Data Protection Law comes into force. Then he can get anything written about him that exists anywhere.


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