On 5 June 2017 a Disciplinary Committee of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) heard allegations against Mr Shahid Naseeb Ahmed.
Mr Ahmed had resigned from the Institute in late January 2016, a few days before he pleaded guilty in criminal court proceedings and while he was aware of being the subject of regulatory scrutiny by CIPFA. The proceedings continued against him as a former member.
From around February 2006 Mr Ahmed and another became VAT registered as a partnership under the trading name The Merchants Hotel (the partnership). On 18 October 2007 The Merchants Hotel Limited (the Company) was incorporated with Mr Ahmed as its sole director and his address as its address. The Company was registered for VAT and commenced trading at Christmas 2007. In January 2008 it advised HMRC that it was a transfer of a going concern. In June 2011 Mr Ahmed trading as the Merchants Hotel (a sole proprietor business) was registered under another VAT number.
Between January 2009 and October 2013 Mr Ahmed was involved in a VAT fraud concerning the Merchant Hotel business which involved him filing false returns and creating and using false VAT invoices. Losses to the HMRC were assessed as amounting to around £80,000.
In January 2016 Mr Ahmed pleaded guilty to (1) being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of tax in that between January 2009 and October 2013 he submitted VAT returns for the Company and the sole proprietor business which he knew or believed to be false (2) furnishing a document with intent to deceive in that he produced and used for the purposes of the VAT Act invoices on behalf of the company and the sole proprietor business which he knew or believed to be false, and (3) possessing articles for a fraud in that between 1 July 2009 and 31 October 2013 he had in his possession or under his control an article for use in the course of or in connection with a fraud namely invoices on which he had purported to have paid VAT. He was sentenced in July 2016 to 15 months imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.
The Committee found that Mr Ahmed had pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the three criminal counts detailed above and was sentenced to a total of 15 months imprisonment.
The Committee also found that Mr Ahmed had failed to act in accordance with the CIPFA Standard of Professional Practice on Ethics. By committing a significant crime of dishonesty over a protracted period of time he had breached the fundamental principles of integrity and professional behaviour.
The Committee found that Mr Ahmed, by acting in breach of the Institute’s Code of Ethics, was in breach of CIPFA’s Bye-Law 23(b).
It also found Mr Ahmed to be in breach of Bye-Law 23(c) in that his had conducted himself in a way so as to prejudicially affect the status and reputation of the Institute.
Mr Ahmed was also found to be in breach of Bye-Law 23(d). He had acted in a manner which had brought, or was likely to bring, discredit on himself, his employer, the Institute or the profession of accountancy and he had been convicted of a criminal offence for which a sentence of imprisonment had been imposed.
The Disciplinary Committee determined to expel Mr Ahmed from the Institute.
The Committee took account of various mitigating factors, including that Mr Ahmed had no previous disciplinary record with CIPFA and had co-operated with its investigations, his relatively early admissions and guilty plea and his indications of remorse and insight.
It also took onto account aggravating factors including the sophistication of the fraud, that it was a deliberate course of dishonest conduct committed over a protracted period of time, the large sums involved, the impact on the public purse and Mr Ahmed’s limited insight and continued efforts to downplay his role.
Given Mr Ahmed’s status as a former Member, the effect of the sanction is that re-admittance can only be sought in accordance with the Disciplinary Regulations.
The Committee imposed a costs order against Mr Ahmed.
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