Halifax auditors plead guilty to charges

The first auditors in Australia to face criminal prosecution for failing to comply with auditing standards, EC Audit, have pled guilty to the three charges against them.

In Downing Crown Court, Sydney, the firm pled guilty to three charges relating to alleged failure to conduct audits in accordance with auditing standards while director Robert James Evett also pled guilty to three charges on ensuring the audits were conducted correctly.

The charges related to the audits of profit and loss statements and balance sheets of Halifax Investment Services Pty for the financial years ending 30 June 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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Halifax was an Australian financial services provider that was placed in administration in November 2018 and entered liquidation in March 2019. Its AFSL was later cancelled in January 2021.

“Auditors play a key role in providing confidence in the quality of financial reports. Auditors must comply with all applicable auditing standards and obtain reasonable assurance that a financial report is free of material misstatement,” the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said.

The maximum penalties for the offences occurring before 1 July, 2017, were a $9,000 fine for each charge against Evett and $45,000 fine for each charge against EC Audit.

For those occurring after 1 July, 2017, the penalty rose to $10,500 for Evett and $52,500 for the firm.

The matter was adjourned for sentencing on 10 August, 2021, while ASIC’s investigation continued.

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