-As LICPA confirms not being a member
The executive director of the Internal Audit Authority (IAA), E. Barten Nyeswa, is not a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a credential required for one to head the integrity entity.
Additionally, section 5.1 of the IAA Act of 2013 clearly provides that the “Director-General and Deputy Director-General shall be recruited through a competitive process,” but President Weah appointed a Director-General without conducting a competitive recruitment process.
Additionally, the Liberian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (LICPA) in response to the Daily Observer’s inquiry, said: “Mr. Nyenswa is not a member of the LICPA,” a situation that bars him from signing audit reports.
LICPA further told the Daily Observer that, “As per the LICPA regulation 2, sub-section 1.18.c, only licensed members of the institution are qualified to sign audit reports.”
Section 5.3 of the IAA Act says the director general shall be a professional qualified accountant and a member of a national accountancy body that is a member of the International Federation of Accountants.
But the new appointee argues that the law doesn’t specify that in order to head the IAA one must hold a CPA.
LICPA is a member of three international organizations, including the Association of Accountancy Bodies of West Africa (ABWA), the regional organization for the Accountancy profession in West Africa and the Pan-African Federation of Accountants, the regional body intended to represent African professional accountants with one and a louder voice.
LICPA is also a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies.
However, Nyeswa is a member of another international accountancy body called the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). The ACFE prides itself as “the world’s largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education. Together with nearly 85,000 members, the ACFE is reducing business fraud worldwide and inspiring public confidence in the integrity and objectivity within the profession.” ACFE has a recognized chapter (#198) in Liberia, located in the Macars Building on the Corner of Broad an Mechlin Streets, Monrovia. Certified members affix the designation, “CFE”, after their surname, as the CPAs do.
According to the ACFE website, the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. CFEs around the world help protect the global economy by uncovering fraud and implementing processes to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), in its 100 days+ on President George Weah Administration, highlighted the appointment of several government officials in violation of the laws.
CENTAL in its report said the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) and the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) received appointees as heads through direct presidential appointment, contrary to recruitment and vetting processes required by the agencies’ acts. Such actions severely undermine the independence of such critical anti-corruption agencies.
Audit experts say the law doesn’t mention CPA but rather International Federation of Accountants, adding that to be a part of IFAC one must have earned a CPA, a credential the newly-appointed head of the IAA does not have.
But the current IAA executive director, Nyeswa, further said the position does not call for the head to be a CPA.
“I was competitively recruited as Deputy Director General for audit for more than five years; how am I not qualified to be the head of IAA? But I was qualified to be deputy director-general for more than five years and you see the irony, right? The position does not call for CPA, the law says professional accountant,” Nyeswa said.
Joshua Clement, an auditor, told newsmen that the IAA head must have the requisite qualification and be capable of signing audit reports.
“When you produce an audit report, people will want to know who signed the audit and it is right to be a professional auditor,” Clement said.
“You have to be governed by a special code of conduct and ethical training. It is an integrity area of accountability, and even in private auditing firms, heads are CPAs; this is an attack on IAA and it is intended to kill the professional entity.
“The head of the IAA must be a member of the Liberia Institute of Certified Accountant. You’re going to meet your peers, and you go out there but are not a CPA at the IAA,” he said.
“So that’s why it is required that heads of audit institutions must be qualified professional accountants, because your professional body will be on your case; you will be signing audit reports; to sign on an audit report you have to be certified. It’s like you can’t drive a car if don’t have a license, you can’t practice law unless the Supreme Court qualifies you as counselor at the law,” Clement said.
But Mr. Nyenswa said that he has practiced accounting for more than a decade.
“I’m a professional accountant and I’ve practiced accounting in Liberia for more than twenty years. I was Comptroller for FDA, I worked at GAC, I got a Master’s degree in accounting. I’m a certified forensic auditor; I’m a member of the CIA (Certified Internal Auditor). This is mere propaganda; I was recruited by an international body and not the IAA,” Nyeswa said.
But Clement averred that to head the IAA, a person must be a member of the Liberia Institute of Certified Public Accountants, adding that the newly-appointed head is not part of any.
Emmanuel B. Nyeswa is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Tax Accountant and Public Debt Auditor, with more than two decades of solid experience working in the Accounting profession. He is credited with a certificate of Appreciation by the Internal Revenue Service of America and the State of Rhode Island for teaching tax law and providing Income Tax Return Services for residents of the State of Rhode Island in the United States of America.