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Accountants reflect on 2017's scandals, optimistic for a smoother 2018

From the Cranston scandal, to the implosion at CPA Australia, to the ATO’s IT meltdown, professionals reflect on what they hope were one-off events for the accounting profession. 

Professional Development Jotham Lian 28 December 2017
— 1 minute read

Earlier this year, Michael Cranston resigned from his role as ATO deputy commissioner following allegations he abused his position to access information for his son, Adam Cranston, who was part of an alleged $165 million tax fraud syndicate.


Brown Wright Stein Lawyers partner Geoff Stein said the whole scenario cast the tax office in a poor light and further strained the relationship within the community, who were plagued by system outages at the start of 2017.

“The Cranston scandal undermined the confidence many members of the community in the ATO,” said Mr Stein.

“[But] probably the worst aspect of 2017 for practitioners was the ATO IT meltdown, with some still trying to get on top of their workload.”

The ATO’s digital downtime has been well documented, attracting associations, senators, and businesses to call out the tax office and voice their frustration.

Additionally, CPA Australia’s leadership fiasco dominated the headlines as the drawn out saga threatened to diminish the professionalism attached to the wider accounting industry.

RSM national technical director Ralph Martin believes it is hard to argue against the impact of the issue, as professional associations are now held to a deeper level of accountability.

“It’s difficult to look past the implosion of CPA Australia, which resulted in the departure of the CEO and the entire board,” said Mr Martin.

“Whatever your view of the conduct of the board and of Alex Malley - and the size and nature of his termination payment appears indefensible - the impact on CPA Australia and the wider profession is unarguable.

“It is likely to be used in textbooks for years to come as an example of corporate governance failure.”

Likewise, Sequel CFO chief executive David Boyar believes the saga will linger on the minds of the community as it heads into the new year but saw a silver lining in CPA rebel leader Brett Stevenson’s efforts in standing up to the association.

“It’s hard to see the CPA leadership and member service crisis not being the worst of accounting for 2017 but the direction by a handful of members to step up also showed the best of us,” said Mr Boyar.


Accountants reflect on 2017's scandals, optimistic for a smoother 2018
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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Professional Development