Impacts of Fraud on CPA & Your License
Few professions are so protective of the public trust as that of accountancy.
Fraud is one of the most serious things an accountant can do to endanger their license. It also carries a severe maximum penalty if the violation is discovered by the Board of Public Accountancy. That penalty could range from a minimum of a reprimand, one-year suspension, two years of probation, and a $5,000 fine, up to a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and the revocation of a CPA’s license.
Fraud is also very broadly construed under the Florida CPA disciplinary guidelines, including any fraudulent act, in any jurisdiction, whether or not it is in the same jurisdiction the accountant practices. A fraudulent act is committed by making any misleading or deceptive representation in, or related to, the practice of the licensee’s profession.
A fraud claim may also include making any deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representation or even employing a “trick or scheme” in the practice of the profession. Trick or scheme could be as simple as using fake identification or as complex as misstating revenues on a client’s tax return. If you are arrested for any reason while you hold a CPA license, it is worth taking a look at the disciplinary guidelines to get an idea of what consequences you might expect. Or better yet, ask a lawyer.
Protecting Your Livelihood if Facing Discipline by Board of Public Accountancy
While the loss of your license and livelihood is a frightening prospect, it is not a foregone conclusion. Just because you are at risk of discipline does not mean there is nothing you can do to mitigate the damage.
Complying & Reporting. The first thing you can do to protect yourself is to minimize the exposure to discipline by complying with the reporting requirements if your circumstances include a criminal conviction. The administrative rules applicable to CPAs require an accountant found guilty of a crime must report it within 30 days. In the case of fraud, this can expose you to discipline, but failure to report a criminal plea or conviction is itself a breach of the rules and will result in a charge of both violations. If the board is considering whether you are trustworthy enough to continue being an accountant, the very last thing you want them to consider is your attempt to conceal a fraud charge from them. If they hear it from you, it will reflect on your character to face the issue directly.
Seek Advice of Counsel. The second and most important thing you can do is to seek the advice of counsel. The Florida Statutes entitle you to defend your interests by retaining a lawyer and requesting an administrative hearing. But you can accidentally waive that right if you do not act quickly to protect it. If you do request a hearing, being represented by a competent and experienced attorney can make all the difference. Finally, depending on circumstances unique to each case, it may be possible to avoid the need for a hearing altogether by reaching a settlement that will allow you to keep your license by accepting a penalty milder than permanent revocation.
Received an Administrative Complaint?
If you have received an administrative complaint from the Board of Public Accountancy, then time is of the essence.
Contact the law offices of Howell, Buchan & Strong at (850) 877-7776 now to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced administrative lawyers want to protect your license and livelihood.
Contact the law offices of Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation at any one of our locations:
Orlando (407) 717-1773 |Tallahassee (850) 877-7776 | Tampa (813) 833-6726 | Sarasota (941) 779-4348