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On 12 October 2020 a Disciplinary Committee of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (“CIPFA”) heard allegations against former CIPFA Member Mr Zhiyong Wu.
Mr Wu did not attend the hearing and was not represented in his absence. He had previously had some limited contact with CIPFA’s Disciplinary Scheme about his matter and had been sent the relevant materials. The Disciplinary Committee determined that it was reasonable and in the public interest to consider the matter in Mr Wu’s absence.
In early June 2016, Mr Wu applied to become a Member of CIPFA through an accelerated route to membership, based, in part, on his membership of another accountancy body (Body A). In applying for CIPFA membership, Mr Wu advised CIPFA that there were no matters reflecting on his professional fitness to bring to its attention and that he had never been the subject of disciplinary proceedings by a professional regulatory body.
Approximately ten days later Mr Wu was advised by Accountancy Body A that it had received a complaint about his conduct. Mr Wu did not bring this issue to the attention of CIPFA and he was elected to CIPFA Membership, about one week later, in late June 2016.
In June 2017, Mr Wu was informed by Accountancy Body A that his matter had been listed for hearing. He attended the hearing in July 2017 (when the matter was adjourned) and on dates in November 2017 and March 2018 when the case was heard. At the end of the hearing, he was found by Body A’s Disciplinary Committee to have committed misconduct and to have acted dishonestly and unethically in signing a Practicing Certificate Training Record which contained false information in order to obtain a Body A Practicing Certificate. In addition, Mr Wu was found to have failed to co-operate fully with Body A’s investigations by failing to respond to various communications from Body A to him. At the conclusion of its hearing Body A excluded Mr Wu from membership of Body A.
Mr Wu did not notify CIPFA about Body A’s regulatory proceedings and his expulsion. When these matters came to CIPFA’s attention, through Body A’s processes, CIPFA sought relevant information from Mr Wu and, although he provided it with some material, on a number of occasions he failed to provide requested information about the progress of a judicial review application relating to Body A’s matter.
The CIPFA’s Disciplinary Committee found that, in acting as found by Body A’s Disciplinary Committee, Mr Wu had conducted himself in a manner that was dishonest, misleading, lacking in integrity and was potentially damaging to the interests of his employer, CIPFA and the profession of accountancy. His actions were also a failure to act in accordance with CIPFA’s Code of Ethics. The CIPFA’s Disciplinary Committee also found that Mr Wu acted dishonestly in choosing not to notify CIPFA of the complaint to Body A prior to his obtaining CIPFA membership and in failing to notify CIPFA of Body A’s proceedings and its outcome. As a CIPFA Member he had a duty to advise CIPFA of any matter that may indicate that he may have become liable to disciplinary action. Mr Wu’s actions lacked integrity, were damaging to CIPFA and the accountancy profession and were a breach of the CIPFA Code of Ethics’ fundamental principles of integrity and professional behaviour.
The Disciplinary Committee found that by acting in breach of CIPFA’s Code of Ethics Mr Wu had breached Bye-Law 23(b).
Mr Wu was also found by the Committee to have breached Bye–Law 23(c) and (d). His dishonest conduct affected prejudicially the status and reputation of CIPFA. His actions were likely to bring discredit on himself, CIPFA and the profession of accountancy.
Mr Wu’s failure to provide assistance, co-operation and information to CIPFA, including by not providing information about Body A’s proceedings and not responding to CIPFA’s enquiries about his judicial review claim, constituted misconduct and was a breach of CIPFA’s Bye-Law 32A.
The Disciplinary Committee determined to expel Mr Wu from CIPFA Membership.
In reaching this decision, the Committee took into account that Mr Wu’s actions demonstrated a persistent pattern of behaviour, that he failed to co-operate with CIPFA for a lengthy period of time and that his actions were a significant breach of trust for someone acting as a public servant responsible for large sums of public money. The public and the profession were entitled to expect a CIPFA Member to uphold the highest standards of trust, confidence and behaviour.
The Committee concluded that Mr Wu’s actions were fundamentally incompatible with his continuing to be a CIPFA Member and expelled him from CIPFA membership. The Disciplinary Committee also imposed a costs order against Mr Wu.
As a former Member, this order means that Mr Wu cannot seek reinstatement to CIPFA membership until a period of at least five years has passed and the costs order has been paid. Any such application would be subject to formal scrutiny and review in accordance with CIPFA’s Disciplinary Regulations.
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