Nebraska board of public accountancy to accuse

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Reference no: EM131049190

Case 30.2

FACTS Stephen Teiper wrote a letter to the Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy to accuse his brother-in-law, Michael Walsh, a certified public accountant (CPA), of impersonating Teiper on the phone to obtain financial information from Teiper's insurance company. The board filed a complaint against Walsh for a violation of its rules. At a hearing, Walsh admitted that he had impersonated Teiper, but argued that Teiper had provided his personal information to Walsh for this purpose. The board found that Walsh had committed a "discreditable act" and concluded that his conduct was reprehensible and reflected adversely on his fitness to engage in the practice of public accountancy. As sanctions, the board reprimanded Walsh, placed him on probation for three months, and ordered him to attend four hours of continuing education in ethics. The board also ordered him to pay the costs of the hearing. Walsh petitioned a Nebraska state court, which affirmed the orders. Walsh appealed.

ISSUE Is there a sufficient connection between the practice of public accountancy and Walsh's conduct to allow the board to discipline him?

DECISION Yes. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision. Walsh's actions reflected adversely on the accountancy profession, which demands a high level of honesty and integrity.

REASON A CPA cannot impersonate another person and "make false statements," or otherwise commit fraud, without "tainting" the CPA's reputation and the reputation of the accountancy profession. Like attorneys and other professionals, CPAs are held to "a high degree of moral and ethical integrity" because laypersons depend on their "honesty, integrity, sound professional judgment, and compliance with government regulations." The Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy has the authority to issue rules to "establish and maintain a high standard of integrity and dignity in the profession of public accountancy." Under these rules, a CPA "shall not commit an act that reflects adversely" on his or her fitness to practice the profession. The board can discipline CPAs who do not follow these standards and can impose various sanctions, including those levied on Walsh.

FOR CRITICAL ANALYSIS-Ethical Consideration Was the specific reason for Walsh's impersonation significant to the result in this case? Why or why not?

Reference no: EM131049190

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