FOUR auditors and accountants have taken the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA) to court for revoking their membership and licenses allegedly without a hearing.
In their urgent High Court application filed last Tuesday Matsobane Putsoa, Ilembu Mwakalumbwa, Moratuoa Lebesa and Ephraim Ramosehlana Mapetla seek an order for their reinstatement pending the finalisation of the matter.
The applicants also seek an order for the LIA to retract the publications related to the revocation of their membership and licenses.
LIA, Council for the Lesotho Institute of Accountants, and LIA Chief Executive Officer ‘Malehlohonolo Mahase are cited as first to third respondents respectively.
In their certificate of urgency, the applicants state the respondents had “effectively shut down” their businesses at great “financial loss” by revoking their membership and licenses due.
In her founding affidavit on behalf of the applicants, Ms Lebesa says the revocation of her LIA membership and auditing license were unceremoniously gazetted in a newspaper advertisement.
“I am a member of LIA registered and practicing as an auditor. I have been practicing without any form of discontent on the part of the respondent until July 2016 when my attention was called to an advert in the Public Eye newspaper of 1 July 2016, that I was among 10 people who have been disposed of the practicing right as Auditor/Accountant by LIA and whose certificates have been revoked,” says Ms Lebesa.
“Nine of the 10 whose certificates have been revoked, all applicants included, asked for a meeting whereat the (LIA) President Thuso Pitso and Vice-President Moahloli Mphaka were present. During the meeting, Mr Pitso told us the basis for the malicious advert, which was non-payment for quality assurance fees.”
She states they then requested the council to retract the advert and apologise for public notification.
“ . . . Mr Pitso said he was going to table the matter to other council members and revert to us, however, he has not given us feedback to date,” Ms Lebesa says.
“It is important that I should indicate that the quality assurance review is an assessment on the practice of the auditors which is conducted in conformity with International Federation of Accountants requirements to which LIA is a member.”
She further alleges LIA had failed to provide the basis of calculation of the quality assurance fees “despite several requests from some members”.
“When we met the president and his vice, our contention was that such a decision should not have been taken against us without engaging us and actually hearing our side of the story.” Ms Lebesa also alleges she was the only person, among the people whose licences were revoked, who received a letter on the decision.
“None of us were heard before this decision was taken as the first time that we heard this issue was when we saw the advert,” she says.
Ms Lebesa also accuses the institute of failing to follow laid down procedures in dealing with their case.
“If indeed the respondents were concerned that we have defied the authority of the council, it was then incumbent upon them to engage the methods that are prescribed under the Rules in dealing with incidents of improper conduct and/or misconduct on our part, but this they failed to do.”
Meanwhile, LIA Vice President Mr Mphaka has since told the Sunday Express all the applicants had letters informing them of their failure to comply with membership obligations but did nothing about them.
“They all have letters written by the CEO as far back as 2011 but they did nothing about the letters. Even now, they still have letters informing them that their practicing rights will be revoked if they fail to comply with their membership obligations,” Mr Mphaka said.
“We have accepted the legal process taken by the applicants and are ready to oppose them.”