On 10 October 2022 a Disciplinary Committee of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (“CIPFA”) heard allegations against CIPFA Registered Student Mr Farah Ibrahim.
Disciplinary Committee Attendance
Mr Farah Ibrahim did not attend the hearing and was not represented in his absence. He had made
submissions about the allegations in advance of the hearing.
The Disciplinary Committee Hearing
Mr Farah Ibrahim became a CIPFA Registered Student in about March 2020.
On 3 March 2021 Mr Farah Ibrahim undertook CIPFA’s International Public Financial Management Audit and Assurance (IPFM AA) examination. He undertook the examination on-line, at his place of work 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 Farah Ibrahim’s examination script was marked, it was found that parts of the text were similar or identical to the IPFM AA course materials with the script using the exact, or almost exact, wording as those course materials in places.
In advance of the hearing Mr Farah Ibrahim asserted that he had memorised definitions and included them in his examination script.
The Committee found that Mr Farah Ibrahim had, in some way plagiarised, cheated, aided and abetted or otherwise committed exam misconduct in his examination. It did not find his explanation for the similarities and matches between his script and the text of the workbooks credible. It noted that there were long passages of text that contained similar or the same wording which were not solely confined to definitions. It further noted that the punctuation was identical, or almost identical, to the workbooks’ texts. It also found that the similarities related to different workbooks but were within close proximity to each other in the examination script. Additionally, about half of the examination answers contained text which was identical or similar to the course materials. It concluded that Mr Farah Ibrahim came into possession of unauthorised materials during the examination either by direct access to the workbooks or by some other unauthorised means.
The Committee had no hesitation in concluding that Mr Farah Ibrahim’s actions amounted to cheating in a professional examination and, in consequence, contravened the Assessment Regulations. Cheating undermines the examination and the entire basis of the accreditation process. Mr Farah Ibrahim, by choosing to put his interests above his obligations to adhere to the Assessment Regulations demonstrated that his integrity cannot be relied upon. His lack of integrity undermined his standing as a student member of the Institute which expects registered members to uphold the highest standards of conduct and behaviour at all times.
The Committee also had no hesitation in finding that Mr Farah Ibrahim’s actions amounted to dishonesty. He was well aware that he was not permitted to access unauthorised material during the examination. The Assessment Regulations are clear and, immediately before he commenced the examination, a reminder of the relevant regulations appeared on screen. Mr Farah Ibrahim copied significant parts of the workbooks knowing that access to this material during the examination was prohibited. The Committee concluded that he had cheated to improve his chances of passing or getting a higher mark and that if his actions had not been discovered he would have had an unfair advantage over other students. The committee concluded that by the standards of reasonable and honest people such behaviour amounts to dishonesty.
The Disciplinary Committee’s findings on breach of the Institute’s Bye-Laws
The Committee found that Mr Farah Ibrahim’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 Assessment Regulations and affected prejudicially the status, reputation or welfare of CIPFA (Bye-Law 23(b) and (c)). It amounted to misconduct.
Sanction and relevant considerations
The Disciplinary Committee directed that Mr Farah Ibrahim be expelled from the Institute.
The Committee found that Mr Farah Ibrahim’s actions were fundamentally incompatible with student membership of the Institute. It concluded that, because of the serious nature of the misconduct, the lack of insight and the ongoing risk of repetition, Mr Farah Ibrahim’s actions fell into the category of cases where there was no other means of protecting the public or the wider public interest. Members of the public are entitled to expect a student member to uphold high standards of behaviour and would be appalled by the prospect of a student member undermining the entire accreditation process by cheating in an examination.
In reaching its decision, the Committee took account of mitigating factors; Mr Farah Ibrahim was of previous good character, and, had no previous CIPFA disciplinary findings against him. The Committee also took into account relevant aggravating factors; Mr Farah Ibrahim’s actions were premeditated, he had not demonstrated any insight, remorse or remediation, and, there was a risk of repetition.
The Committee also imposed a costs order against Mr Farah Ibrahim.
For media enquiries contact the CIPFA press office at T: +44 (0)20 7543 5885 E: Mark.Davey@cipfa.org
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