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Police arrest 12, close 7 firms in crackdown on fake accountants

KAMPALA- A dozen people were arrested yesterday and seven accounting firms closed in the city during a crackdown on quack accountants.

The clampdown by both police and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants is expected to widen to other parts of the country to weed out fraudsters.

CPA spokesperson John Ssegendo said they estimate about 5,000 individuals holding out as accountants are either unqualified or practising without licence in breach of the law.

“After the outcry from the genuine accountants about the escalating numbers of those masquerading, we mounted a quality review programme and we established that a number of fake accountants and companies had flooded the market. We have to put an end to this,” Mr Ssegendo said.

The accountants with questionable credentials, he said, charge lower rates to undercut the professionals. Others help companies to falsify business or financial records to reduce tax liability, he added. According to Section 35(1) of the Accountants Act, 2013, a person shall not practice accountancy in Uganda without a certificate of practice.

The provision imposes a fine of up to Shs10m or a two-year imprisonment on illegal practitioners. According to Mr Ssegendo, the membership certificate for an accountants costs Shs1m, annual certificate renewal at Shs400,000 while a practicing licence costs Shs1.2m a year.

Mr Vincent Ssekatte, the Criminal Investigation Directorate spokesperson, said detectives were by last evening recording statements from the 12 suspects whom they plan to arraign in court within the week if the Directorate of Public Prosecutions endorses the charge of forgery preferred against them.

“It is the mandate of the CPA to accredit the accountants and companies, hence even if one knows how to balance financial books, without the practising licence and membership certificate, they are rendered fake and we are going to deal with them,” he said.

He said the exercise will continue until the fake accountants are out of the field.

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