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Worry over fake accountants

MASERU — The chief executive of the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA), Puleng Lebitsa, says the association is worried about the increased number of people who are masquerading as accountants and auditors.

The Accountancy Act of 1977 stipulates that all accounting professionals should be registered with the LIA.

“Getting people to comply with this regulation has been a problem,” Lebitsa said.

“We still have people complaining that their accounts have been audited by unregistered people but when we ask them to give us details they always say they don’t want to breach confidentiality agreements.”

According to Lebitsa, the first level of LIA membership is the technician accountant stage.

These must have passed the technician accounting stage.

The second stage is that of general accounting. Professionals in this group must have passed general accountancy courses and have two years’ experience.

The final stage is that of chartered accountancy. These must have passed a chartered accounting course and have three years’ experience. 

Professionals at technician and general accounting levels are not allowed to audit financials. 

Yet some professionals at lower levels still perform duties they are neither qualified nor registered to do.

“Those that practise accounting activities they are not allowed to do are in fact committing fraud,” Lebitsa said.

“It is illegal for them to do that.”

Lebitsa said the biggest problem was that the fines in the Accountancy Act of 1977 are “out of touch”.

“The fines for breaching the law are not very punitive. That is why you have people still doing it again and again,” she said.

“You have people paying a fine of M300 and then going ahead to continue their illegal activities.”

Lebitsa said the institute had made recommendations to revamp the law to make the fines more punitive.

“That law is being worked on by our parent ministry and we hope that we will be able to deal with such people.”

LIA has a complete list of registered accountants. — Staff Reporter.

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