Investigation and Discipline in Mauritius: Making Change Through Cooperation
Sudhir Newaj | June 6, 2019 |
Known for our beaches, mountains, and culinary delights, Mauritius also wants to be known for our sound financial reporting practices, growing businesses—and a strong accountancy profession.
Over the last decade, we have seen significant financial reporting improvements in Mauritius. Chief among these improvements was the passage of the 2004 Financial Reporting Act and the establishment of the Mauritius Institute of Professional Accountants (MIPA). MIPA regulates professional accountants and supports our members with technical advice, support, and comprehensive educational services.
At MIPA, we know that a strong professional accountancy organization is an asset to business and society. We are committed to ensuring that professional accountants perform to the highest standard which is why we knew that we needed to concentrate our efforts on the development of strong investigation and discipline procedures. This presented a significant challenge due to limited resources.
However, the lack of a robust investigation and disciplinary mechanism for enforcing technical and professional standards creates a risk for manipulation, misrepresentation, and fraud. It also impacts our governance and effectiveness as, in the absence of a disciplinary committee, MIPA’s board was responsible for handling disciplinary matters.
As part of enhancing member and public confidence in the institute, MIPA took to revising our investigation and discipline process through several collaborative measures.
Global Partnerships, and a New Framework
With assistance from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, MIPA established Investigation and Disciplinary Regulations based on IFAC’s best practices. The Regulations established distinct Investigation, Disciplinary, and Appeal Committees.
- The Investigation Committee receives and considers the complaint. Based on the information gathered, it decides whether to refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee to conduct a disciplinary hearing.
- The Disciplinary Committee makes a final decision regarding any sanctions.
- The Appeals Committee considers any appeals against the decisions of the Disciplinary Committee.
These committees were formally operationalized in June 2018.
After establishing these committees, we needed our members to support the changes and be part of the process. We organized a member forum in to explain the need for these committees and to request for members’ participation in the implementation of our new framework. Now, individuals on the committees represent the accountancy profession, legal field, and others operating in the public interest.
Our primary obstacle for these changes was our original Membership Terms of Reference. For any disciplinary action, it required drawing committee members from a pool of 40 members to ensure committee members’ independence and no conflicts of interest.
This was a significant operational difficulty for us. Looking for a selection pool of this size given our jurisdiction’s size and location was problematic. To solve the problem, we revised the requirements to a lower number while still ensuring against conflicts of interest in potential cases. The procedures are based on international practices but have been modified to suit our local operational context.
MIPA has already seen the benefits of enhanced investigation and discipline procedures. For instance, it has prompted professionals who were previously not registered with MIPA to become registered as the committee’s work and close attention to compliance with rules and regulations would affect their work. Instead of continuing to practice outside of MIPA’s regulatory scope and risk enforcement cases, they joined MIPA’s membership, thereby strengthening our membership base. A larger membership base helps ensure that all professional accountants in the jurisdiction are offering high-quality services as these individuals are held to international best practices in continuing professional development, ethics, and investigation and discipline.
Moreover, our members and stakeholders alike are more satisfied with the direction of the institute in supporting and enforcing compliance, with the Minister of Financial Services and Corporate Governance noting that trust is at the root of Mauritius’ economic and social development. MIPA plays a key role in building that trust and our recent developments to the enforcement mechanism put us on the right path to strengthening the reputation of the institute and Mauritian professionals regionally, nationally and globally. MIPA is looking forward to developing more technical resources and welcoming new changes to the accountancy profession while continuing to implement best practices.