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15-356MR ASIC disqualifies SMSF auditor
ASIC has disqualified Manoj Abichandani of New South Wales from being an approved Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) auditor. ASIC determined that Mr Abichandani had provided untruthful statements that were deliberately misleading and that he was not a fit and proper person to be an approved SMSF auditor.
ASIC imposed additional conditions on Mr Abichandani’s registration for him to undertake further professional development, and submit for an independent review three of his subsequent audits with the expectation that by meeting these conditions he might address the concerns.
Mr Abichandani requested a review of the conditions and as part of this process made statements to ASIC that were found to be untruthful and deliberately misleading. The decision to disqualify Mr Abichandani was also subject to further review, which found among other things that his statements were made for the purpose of causing ASIC to erroneously accept that he had no understanding of the audit work that had been undertaken and the findings made as a result of that audit work.
Mr Abichandani has lodged an application with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's disqualification decision.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said, 'As the SMSF sector continues to grow in popularity with Australian investors, it is critical that approved SMSF auditors perform their role adequately and meet professional standards. ASIC will continue to follow up matters referred by the ATO concerning the quality of SMSF auditors.'
SMSF trustees and members can check whether their auditor is registered, or whether a person has been disqualified, by searching ASIC's SMSF auditor register at connectonline.asic.gov.au.
Concerns about the quality of Mr Abichandani’s audit work were referred to ASIC by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (the SIS Act).
From 1 July 2013, the SIS Act required all auditors of SMSFs to be registered with ASIC. This was to ensure that all SMSF auditors at least meet the base standards of competency and expertise.
ASIC and the ATO work closely together as co-regulators of SMSF auditors. The ATO monitors SMSF auditor conduct and may refer matters to ASIC for possible action such as disqualification or suspension of their registration.
On 8 November 2016, the AAT set aside ASIC's decision to disqualify Mr Abichandani. Mr Abichandani’s registration as an approved SMSF auditor has been reinstated. (refer: 16-390MR)