Unaccounted leave leaves accountant unaccounted for

Calling in sick when you’re not sick makes wallet sick

A former University of Otago student has been removed as a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants after giving false medical certificates to his former workplace and a fake reference to a recruitment company.

At his hearing on 5 August 2014, Simon Michael Collins was found guilty of providing false medical certificates to his former employer. The decision said Collins’ former workplace was to be suppressed. An analysis of his LinkedIn profile indicates that he was working at Deloitte in Christchurch at the time.

When questioned about the accusations, he stated he received medical treatment, including surgery, in Timaru during the 11-day period he was absent from work. However, this was proven to be untrue.

He also provided to a recruitment company a previous manager as a referee, but used his own home telephone number as the “manager’s” number. It is believed he either gave a telephone reference impersonating his manager or arranged for another person to impersonate him.

He also failed to respond in writing to the initial complaint when the discovery of his fraudulent behaviour first came to light.

After being found guilty of the charges and as well as being stood down from the NZICA, he has also been ordered to pay $9,348 to cover his court costs.

As listed on his LinkedIn profile, it states he had been working for De Lorenzo NZ Ltd since November 2013 as General Manager and also as a Financial Controller for Enzo International Ltd.

The hearing decision read “repeated dishonesty is however incompatible with membership of the Institute.”

“Professional disqualification is a very rare event. There are 100,000 members of the new combined Australia and New Zealand professional body, CAANZ. That there are so few cases of dishonesty is evidence of the strong professional mores of accountants,” Professor Colin Campbell-Hunt, Head of Department of Accountancy and Finance at Otago University, told Critic.

“These people are, after all, put in positions of great trust over the most sensitive of human transactions – money,” Campbell-Hunt continues.

As for the strong reputation of Otago’s graduate accountants, Campbell-Hunt does not believe the case of Collins will hinder the reputation of the finest graduates. “We are proud of [the graduates] and the reputation of an Otago degree in these subjects will undoubtedly be influenced far more strongly by them than by the odd bad apple,” says Campbell-Hunt. “Having said that, we are putting more and more energy into lifting the standard of our degree.”

“Nobody in this Department is interested in delivering second-class teaching or producing second-class graduates.”

Collins was registered as a Provisional Member of the NZICA, which as another Dunedin accountant pointed out means, “he has either (a) never sat his exams to be a full Chartered Accountant or (b) failed the exams.”

The process to become a Chartered Accountant usually takes two to three years, costs around $10,000 and includes a six-hour exam.
This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2014.
Posted 12:53am Monday 18th August 2014 by Bella Macdonald.