On 16 November 2021 a disciplinary committee of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy ("CIPFA") heard allegations against CIPFA Registered Student Mr Abdulkadir Aden Omar.
Mr Aden Omar did not attend the hearing and was not represented in his absence.
The Disciplinary Committee Hearing
Mr Aden Omar was a CIPFA Registered Student in December 2020.
On 2 December 2020 Mr Aden Omar undertook CIPFA's International Public Financial Management Audit and Assurance (IPFM AA) examination. He undertook the examination on-line, at his workplace in Somalia, with a local invigilator who was in attendance during the examination.
The examination was conducted in accordance with CIPFA's assessment regulations, which prohibit access to unauthorised materials during a CIPFA examination.
When Mr Aden Omar's examination script was marked, the examiner had concerns about the exact match between a website article and one of his exam answers and the, almost word for word, match between passages in the IPFM AA workbooks and another of Mr Aden Omar's examination answers. The examiner also noted that the standard of English in the latter answer was markedly higher than in his other answers.
The committee examined the workbooks and the examination script and was satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the only natural and reasonable conclusion was that Mr Aden Omar had access to unauthorised materials during his examination. The length and detail of the quotes, including the punctuation, led to the overwhelming inference that they had been copied. The level of English in these quoted passages was also of a different standard to the other answers provided by Mr Aden Omar.
The committee found that this use of unauthorised materials was dishonest and motivated by a desire to cheat, and gave Mr Aden Omar an unfair advantage over other students who had acted honestly.
The Disciplinary Committee's findings on breach of the Institute's Bye-Laws
The committee found that Mr Aden Omar's actions brought, or were likely to bring, discredit on himself, the institute and the profession of accountancy (Bye-Law 23(d)).
His conduct was a breach of the institute's code of ethics' fundamental principles of integrity and professional behaviour and affected prejudicially the status, reputation or welfare of CIPFA (Bye-Law 23(b) and (c)). Cheating in an examination amounted to misconduct.
Sanction and relevant considerations
The disciplinary committee directed that Mr Aden Omar be expelled from the institute.
The committee found that Mr Aden Omar's actions were fundamentally incompatible with student membership of the institute. This was his first CIPFA examination and he had chosen to cheat in it. His actions, in cheating in an accountancy examination to gain an unfair advantage, and a qualification upon which the public will rely, was very serious. The public is entitled to expect a high degree of probity from a professional who has agreed to abide by a code of ethics. Honesty and integrity go to the very essence of what it means to be a member of CIPFA.
A failure to expel Mr Aden Omar would seriously undermine confidence in CIPFA as a regulator. Honesty and integrity go to the heart of the profession and, in order to maintain public trust and uphold proper standards, it was necessary to send out a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
In reaching its decision, the committee took account of mitigating factors; Mr Aden Omar was of previous good character and had no previous CIPFA disciplinary findings against him.
The committee also took into account relevant aggravating factors: Mr Aden Omar had undermined the integrity of CIPFA's examination process and had been motivated by personal gain. He had not co-operated with his regulator.
The committee also imposed a costs order against Mr Aden Omar.
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