As an ex auditor (both external and internal) and having had some considerable experience of fraud investigations and compliance work, I can state that it is a fundamental requirement in order for an auditor to be able to do his/her job in a professional and credible manner (and for the audit report to have credibility) that he/she and the department that they work for are not only independent but perceived to be independent.
When that independence is undermined by, eg, an unhealthy close relationship with the auditee, or by unhelpful dissemination of information about ongoing audits to third parties, then the auditor can no longer perform his/her function.
My thanks to a loyal reader who pointed me to a recent article in the Guardian that shows that the National Audit Office (NAO) has had its independence severely compromised by the alleged actions of its own boss Amyas Morse.
The Guardian reports that Morse, who set up a judge-led review into the "sweetheart" multimillion-pound tax deals between HMRC and corporations, undermined the whole process by telling Dave Hartnett (when he was still head of HMRC) that the inquiry would find "nothing of substance".
For good measure Morse told his staff that the review by Sir Andrew Park would find no evidence of serious wrongdoing.
In an email marked "private and confidential – please do not pass on to anyone without coming back to me", sent by Hartnett on 15 December 2011 to 10 senior HMRC officials Hartnett wrote that he had held a meeting that afternoon with Morse which was "useful and interesting".
Hartnett went on:
"Amyas has been insistent that Andrew Park tackles the cases one at a time. He [Morse] has told me that he has made clear to the NAO that his expectation is that nothing of substance will be found in the review."Morse apologised for the way that Hartnett's officials had been treated by PAC:
"He [Morse] did not envisage things playing out the way that they have and was sorry for the individuals in HMRC who had been bruised by the actions of the PAC and for the difficulties the department had experienced."
It is clear from the text that the relationship between NAO and HMRC has become far too cosy; as such the perceived independence of NAO has been severely compromised, which means that NAO can no longer perform its role effectively.
By the way, does anyone know what has happened to the whistleblower Osita Mba?
Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations
Insurance to protect you against the cost of enquiry or dispute with HMRC is available from several sources including Solar Tax Investigation Insurance.
Ken Frost has negotiated a 10% discount on any polices that may suit your needs.
However, neither Ken Frost nor HMRCISSHITE either endorses or recommends their services.
What is Solar Tax Investigation Insurance?
Solar Tax Investigation Insurance is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.
To find out more, please use this link Solar Tax Investigation Insurance
Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.
Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies
HMRC Is Shite (www.hmrcisshite.com), also available via the domain www.hmrconline.com, is brought to you by www.kenfrost.com "The Living Brand"