James Charles Black, chartered accountant and former CFO of ABC Learning, was deemed liable to disciplinary action by CAANZ in accordance with:
• “By-law 40(a), in that the member failed to observe a proper standard of professional care, skill or competence in the course of carrying out his professional duties, in that he made available, authorised or permitted the making available of false or misleading information relating to affairs of ABC Learning Centres Limited (ABC) that he knew to be false or misleading in material particulars; and
• By-law 40(b), in that on 2 March 2015 the member pleaded guilty and was therefore convicted of one rolled-up charge of making available, authorising or permitting the making available of false or misleading information relating to affairs of ABC that he knew to be false or misleading in material particulars; and
• By-law 40(j), in that the member’s acts, omissions and defaults as set out in paragraph 1 and/or 2 above bring, or are likely to bring, discredit on the member, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and/or the profession of accountancy.”
Mr Black's membership was cancelled; he received a fine of $5,000; and was also ordered to pay a contribution of $3,100 towards the cost of the disciplinary action.
The disciplinary action follows Mr Black’s 18-month suspended prison sentence, described by ASIC as the result of “having pled guilty to one rolled up account of making available false or misleading about the affairs of ABC Learning that he knew to be false or misleading in material particulars”.
The charge related to information being made available to an auditor from Pitcher Partners who was conducting the half-year audit review of ABC accounts for the period ending 31 December 2006.
In December 2006, ABC announced the purchase of La Petite Academy in the United States for US$330 million and Busy Bees Group Ltd in the United Kingdom for £71 million.
According to ASIC, “The information was false and misleading in that ABC Acquisitions did not identify La Petite Academy as an acquisition target and was not involved in the approach and negotiation process for its acquisition. In addition, ABC Acquisitions had not presented Busy Bees as an acquisition target and was not involved in the approach and negotiation process of the Busy Bees transaction. Mr Black was aware that ABC Acquisitions had not been engaged by ABC to provide these services.”